The announcement from the Folkestone Harbour company that it is about to commence the next stage in the redevelopment of the town’s seafront is excellent news for the whole district. Following substantial investment from Roger De Haan and over £5million in funding that we have secured from the government, work will start on some of the necessary infrastructure needed to support the proposed development. The creation of a new seafront residential community along with leisure and retail outlets will transform the economy of the town. This next step also sends out a strong signal to others who are interested in investing in Folkestone, that the town’s regeneration is well underway, and that the plans already set out for the future will be delivered.
On Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, delivered his Budget statement to the House of Commons. This included more goods news for businesses with announcements on cuts in taxes and rates. From next April the government will increase small business rate relief from £6,000 to a maximum threshold of £15,000 meaning that over 600,000 small businesses will never pay business rates. The Chancellor also announced that the threshold will be raised for the higher rate of business rates to £51,000 which means that 250,000 small businesses will get a tax cut on their business rates. Corporation Tax will be cut to 17 per cent from 2020, giving Britain one of the lowest rates in Europe, benefitting over a million firms.
Support for businesses has been a key part of our economic recovery. Cutting taxes and costs for firms, large and small, helps them to create new jobs. Britain is expected to have the fastest rate of growth amongst the world’s leading economies this year, and job creation as been one of the notable achievements of the last six years. Locally, we have seen unemployment fall by half from its high point during the recession. Across the country, two million jobs have been created since 2010. Ninety per cent of these jobs are in skilled occupations and three quarters of them are full time.
George Osborne also announced that he intends to introduce a new levy on drinks with very high levels of sugar, some of which contain as much as 13 teaspoons full of sugar in each serving. It is right that people are aware of the high levels of sugar in the drinks they buy, particularly if they are for children. However, I believe the key part of this new measure is that all of the money that will be raised from the levy, believed by the Treasury to be around £500 million a year, will go towards funding sport in primary schools. It is not enough just to warn about the consequences for children’s health of consuming too much sugar, we should also be investing in the facilities to encourage them to be more physically active. Locally, the success of sport in schools, and organisations like the Shepway Sports Trust, has already made excellent strides forward in encouraging more young people to be more active.