It was great to be out and about in Old Town over the weekend talking to local residents and businesses alike about how the Budget and Spending Review will have a positive impact here in Swindon.
I am pleased that the Budget prioritises helping working families and vulnerable households with the cost of living.
To make sure work pays, we are cutting the Universal Credit taper rate – which gradually withdraws support as people work more hours. It is currently set at 63%, meaning that for extra £1 someone earns; Universal Credit is reduced by 63p. By cutting this down to 55% we are helping low-income families keep more of their hard earned money.
The Government is also increasing the National Living Wage by 6.6% to £9.50 an hour. For a full-time worker, that is a pay rise of over £1,000 a year. This measure will benefit over 2 million of lowest paid workers in the country, including many here in Swindon.
Businesses will also benefit from new measures, including a 50% cut in business rates next year for 90% of the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors. Combined with Small Business Rates Relief, this is a tax cut worth £7 billion for over 700,000 eligible companies – the biggest business rates tax in 30 years.
This Budget will make a real difference to people here in Swindon, helping working families with the cost of living, supporting businesses with their recovery, and investing in our public services so that everyone gets the world class hospitals, schools and police services they deserve.
In recent weeks many residents have been in touch with me to express their concerns about storm overflows. I share these concerns and have been clear that the amount of sewage discharge by water companies into our rivers is simply unacceptable.
There has been much debate here in Westminster about this issue and I am pleased that the Government have conceded that the law needs to be strengthened in this area. As such, the relevant Bill includes a new duty on water companies to produce comprehensive plans on how they will tackle this issue.
Last Friday I had the pleasure of joining Davina McCall and others in support of the Menopause Revolution Private Members Bill in the House of Commons.
Raising awareness of the menopause and its signs and symptoms is important to help women access the care they need. I am pleased that during the Bill’s second reading, the Minister for Women’s Health announced a series of measures to improve the support available to women experiencing the menopause.
This included: confirming that the menopause would be a key part of the Women’s Health Strategy; measures to reduce the costs of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT); and launching a cross-government Menopause Taskforce.
A big well done to Carolyn Harris MP for bringing forward this Bill and to everybody who has campaigned tirelessly on this important issue.