Pensioners and savers stand to gain from Chancellor's budget

Last week was English Tourism Week, and with Visit Kent, I joined Danny Martin and his team at the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. These wonderful steam trains have been a popular attraction for people of all ages for nearly ninety years, and the railway continues to go from strength to strength. Tourism is one of our most important industries, as well as being our second largest employer overall. It is good to see so many of our local tourism businesses investing in their facilities to meet the growing demands from their customers.

The latest figures on unemployment for the Folkestone and Hythe constituency showed a further fall for last month with the overall picture continuing to look very positive. Unemployment has fallen by nearly a half since its peak in the recession which means that over 1,000 more local people are in work every month, compared with just a few years ago, and over 80% of new jobs created are full time jobs.  As our local economy is strongly influenced by the tourism industry, it is not unusual to see unemployment rise a little during the winter months, and then fall substantially over the summer. However this year, we have been able to sustain the levels of employment seen during the summer season, throughout the year, which puts us in a strong position for 2015. There are over 500 fewer people out of work now in our area, than there were a year ago.

The Shepway Pensioners Forum held their traditional general election hustings last week at the Civic Centre in Folkestone. I have enjoyed my debates with this excellent forum over the last five years, and usual we covered a wide range of issues. There was considerable interest in the Budget last week, and in particular the reforms announced by the Chancellor to pensions and savings. The compulsory purchase of annuities for pensions are being scrapped, giving people more control of the money they have saved for throughout their working life. And perhaps most importantly, we’ve brought in a ‘triple lock’ on pensions meaning that they rise properly every year in line with average prices, wages or by 2.5% - whatever is the greatest amount. As inflation is currently at around 0% this means that pensions are rising faster than prices and by the end of this Parliament the state pension will have increased by £950. In addition to this pensioner benefits like the winter fuel allowance have been protected. The Chancellor also announced a new personal savings allowance in the budget meaning that from next year basic rate taxpayers will be able to earn up to £1,000 in interest on savings completely tax free.

As parliament closes on 30th March, this will be my last weekly column until the election. I would like to thank everyone who has read and responded to it over the last five years, and with your support I will look forward to continuing in May.

Visit Kent


Copyright 2021 Damian Collins. All rights reserved

Promoted by Stephen James for and on behalf of Damian Collins, both of Folkestone & Hythe Conservative Association both at 4 West Cliff Gardens, Folkestone, Kent CT20 1SP


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