On Monday the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond delivered his budget for the year ahead, and was able to confirm that the national debt is now falling as a proportion to the size of the economy. In fact, in the last year, debt has fallen faster than was predicted, which has given the Chancellor a greater opportunity to cut taxes for working people and smaller businesses, and to increase spending on vital public services. As a result of the difficult but necessary decisions that have been taken over the last eight years to get back control of the national finances, we can now say that the years of austerity are coming to an end.
There are some particular measures in the budget that I would like to highlight. In the summer I called for more to be done to ease the burdens on smaller high street businesses, and also that the big tech giants like Amazon, Google and Facebook should pay a level of tax that more reasonably reflects the money they make in this country. I was pleased that the Chancellor has announced measures to do both of these things. Firstly, business rates will be cut by a third for retailers with a rateable value under £51,000. This will save up to 90 per cent of all shops up to £8,000 each year. In addition to this, a new Digital Services Tax will ensure large tech firms pay a fair share of tax to support our public services. From 2020, large social media platforms earning over £500million a year in this country, including search engines and online marketplaces, will pay 2 per cent on revenues linked to UK users. This new tax is set to bring in an additional £400mllion a year, and we will be one of the first countries in the world to tax the big tech firms in this way. I think we could all agree that this is an additional charge that they can easily afford.
Philip Hammond was also able to announce more than £1 billion of additional funding for councils. This includes £650 million for social care, £84 million for children’s social care programmes over five years and £420 million for potholes repairs this year. The Chancellor also confirmed that the Treasury has fully funded the Prime Minister’s commitment for an additional £20 billion for the NHS over the next five years.
On Friday this week, 2nd November, from 10am to 3pm, I will be holding by annual jobs fair at the Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone. The event is also being sponsored by Saga, Brett Aggregates, Border Force and Folkestone and Hythe District Council; I am very pleased to have their support once again. There are over 30 organisations who will be attending the jobs fair, including employers, training providers and others who can give advice about jobs and careers. If you are looking for work, or planning for the next stage in your career, I hope to see you there. You can also find out more at the website www.folkestonejobsfair.co.uk