Robert's Weekly Column - 20th March 2019

Amidst all the comment about Brexit, last week’s Spring Statement by the Chancellor underlined some encouraging news about our work to balance the books since 2010 and the years of neglect under Labour. The Chancellor confirmed that the UK economy continues to grow with wages increasing and unemployment at historic lows. Further investments were laid out in infrastructure, technology, housing, skills and clean growth, so the UK can capitalise on the post EU opportunities that lie ahead. The Chancellor also announced that the Treasury will conduct a full spending review before the summer recess, to be concluded before the Autumn Budget, which will set capital budgets to protect record levels of spending, while ensuring this will boost productivity.

A total of £3bn funding was announced to deliver affordable homes, with a “Future Homes Standard” announced to mandate the end of fossil-fuel heating systems in all new homes from 2025. The Chancellor will also make available immediately £100m over the course of the next year, ring-fenced to pay for extra police overtime targeted specifically at knife crime.

The Government’s efforts to build a stronger economy are paying off. The economy remains resilient and is forecast to continue growing. Since 2010, the UK economy has grown faster than France, Italy and Japan, with nine consecutive years of growth and the OBR has forecast further growth every year, for the next five years. The unemployment rate is at the lowest rate since 1975 and wages are increasing at their fastest pace in over a decade and are forecast to continue growing faster than inflation.

Thanks to the Government’s fiscal responsibility and the hard work of the British public, borrowing has already been reduced by four-fifths since 2009 – 2010 and debt has begun its first sustained fall in over a generation. This is encouraging news for all of us and a solid foundation on which to build Britain’s economic future.

I regularly visit our local schools and colleges, and it was a pleasure to meet students and staff during my latest visit to New College here in Swindon on Friday, as I joined the judging panel at a “Dragons Den” event. Groups of students pitched ideas on how they could make college life better and I was extremely impressed by the level of planning and thought that went into all of the pitches.  The students came up with some brilliant ideas, which made it extremely tough for the judging panel to choose an overall winner.

During my time as your MP, I have worked with Headway Swindon, a fantastic local charity who work hard to improve the lives of those living with the effects of brain injury and their families here in the town, so I was pleased to attend an event in Parliament last week to mark Brain Tumour Awareness Month. I will be taking part in “Hats for Headway Day” again this year, on Friday 24th May 2019.  Please join me by simply wearing a wacky hat for the day and donating £2 to help improve life after brain injury.  To sign up, or for further information about Headway, please visit https://www.headway.org.uk/about-headway/events-and-conferences/hats-for-headway-day/

Finally, if you have a local or national issue you would like to discuss with me, please get in touch by emailing Robert.buckland.mp@parliament.uk