Damian welcomes the extensive measures announced in this week’s Budget, which include a comprehensive response to the immediate impact of Covid-19 together with capital investment which will lay the foundations for the UK’s future growth and prosperity.
“This Budget is probably one of the most important in recent decades, tackling the very immediate and widespread threat of Covid-19 but also setting a new course for the UK as we build a new future for ourselves outside the EU. As the Chancellor made clear in the statement, our sound economic base enables us to face both those challenges with confidence and bold action.”
Looking more locally, the freeze on fuel duty for the tenth year in a row was particularly welcomed by Damian, recognising the reliance local communities have on road transport, and he was also pleased to see that the agriculture sector would keep their entitlement to red diesel when it is removed for other sectors in April 2022.
The freeze on duty rates for beer, spirits, wine and cider was another key announcement, giving a boost to local pub and micro-brewing businesses, which not only support East Hampshire’s developing tourism sector but also plays such an important role in local community life.
“Getting on to the housing ladder remains a challenge for many people in our area, so the £9.5 billion announced for the Affordable Homes Programme is key to increasing the available housing stock. We know the planning system needs to be reformed, so the publication of a White Paper on this is important to speed up and unlock land for new homes.”
As the Government consults on bringing forward the phase-out date for the sale of new petrol and diesel cars and vans from 2040, the provision of £500 million over the next five years to support the rollout of a fast-charging network for electric vehicles – ensuring drivers will never be more than further than 30 miles from a rapid charging station – will support the transition to electric cars. Local authorities will also be able to access an extra £304 million to help improve air quality by reducing nitrogen dioxide emissions locally.
Local authority, Hampshire County Council, will also benefit from the £2.5 billion Potholes Fund, providing a 50 per cent increase on the funding available to fix potholes across the network.
Access to broadband across rural areas such as East Hampshire will improve with the £5 billion of funding announced to support the delivery of gigabit-capable broadband for the hardest to reach parts of the country, and improved phone reception will come from the support given to Shared Rural Network roll out.