Yesterday the Chancellor of the Exchequer set out on behalf of the Government a budget that seeks to look to a more optimistic future as we move beyond the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst we have endured challenging times, the budget prepares a new economy with higher wages, higher skills and rising productivity which will deliver for all the residents of Aldridge-Brownhills.

Our ability to be able to successfully fight the Covid-19 pandemic was due to the enormous effort of our precious National Health Service. It was therefore extremely welcome news that there would be further investment in our NHS with a commitment to 40 new hospitals and the recruitment of 50,000 new nurses.

The budget once again reaffirmed our commitment to hard working families with a 6.6% increase in the National Living Wage equivalent of £1,000, and a tax cut for families on Universal Credit putting more money back in their pockets. Recognising the squeeze that so many families are feeling due to the increase in fuel prices the Chancellor scrapped the anticipated rise in fuel duty, saving families’ money at the pumps will be welcomed.

The Government’s priority as we move beyond the global pandemic is an ambitious programme of frontline investment to level up right across our country to close the gap between London and regions like ours. As independent commentators have observed our economy is fundamentally strong and whilst Covid-19 has had an impact on our economy, the Government stands on the side of families and businesses to support our precious public services and business community.

Public services are the People’s Priorities and at the heart of the budget was support for young people with an investment of over £500 million in youth services, 30,000 new school places for Special Educational Needs, a further £3 billion to help all pupils as part of the Covid-19 education recovery fund and a £4.7 billion of funding for education meaning per pupil funding will rise on average to £1,500 per pupil.

With sustained investment to deliver on key infrastructure projects, research and development and a commitment to greater productivity across the economy we will deliver on our ambition for Britain to be a global leader. With record investment in new transport projects the West Midlands Mayor Andy Street will receive more than £1billion for new transportation projects across our region to help level up our local areas and extend our economic reach. At the same time the new funding also represents a major step forward to realise my long held ambition to reopen a railway station in Aldridge.

A commitment to build 180,000 new affordable new homes with a £1.8 billion investment in brownfield development means we will get the homes we need in the right places. It will also mean that we can protect our precious Green Belt and truly live up to our ambition of a ‘Brownfield First’ approach to development.

This additional funding will be extremely important to all of us in Aldridge-Brownhills as we continue to work with Mayor Andy Street to stop speculative and unsuitable development on our precious Green Belt and Open Spaces.

Supporting businesses and High Streets is a key part of our economic recovery and I was pleased the Chancellor announced the long awaited review of Business Rates. I was also pleased that next year’s planned increases in Business Rates have been halted and that our Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Sector will receive a 50% discount, helping our High Streets and Village Centres through challenging times.

As a Government we are focussed on ensuring that we have Higher Skills, Higher Productivity and Higher Wages focussing on the ‘People’s Priorities’. The Budget represents our commitment to level up right across the whole United Kingdom delivering on our promises to the British people and all of the hard working families of Aldridge-Brownhills.