I welcome the Chancellor’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement. It delivers on the promise the Conservative Party made to the British people that we would put their security first by:
- Protecting our economic security – taking the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring our debts down. The public spending plans set out in the Spending Review mean Britain will reach a surplus of £10.1 billion in 2019/20 – that’s higher than was forecast at the Budget and means Britain will be out of the red and into the black.
- Protecting our national security by defending our country’s interests abroad and keeping our citizens safe at home. The Spending Review announced there will be no cuts in the police budget with real terms protection for police funding and delivers on the Government’s commitment to spend 2 per cent of our national income on defence.
In total, the Spending Review commits £4 trillion pounds over the next five years. A huge commitment of the hard-earned cash of British taxpayers, and the Conservative Party knows we have an obligation to make sure it is well spent.
London will benefit from the measures announced including:
- £11 billion of investment in London’s transport infrastructure. The Government will provide £11 billion worth of support for transport in London by 2021, going further than our existing long-term commitment to provide £10 billion of support. Comprising over £7 billion in grants and borrowing powers worth nearly £4 billion, this will enable the completion of Crossrail, major Underground upgrades, 1,700 hybrid-electric buses by 2016 and new cycle superhighways to open in 2015-16.
- Sharing £250 million National Potholes Fund. We will fill over 4.5 million potholes across the UK through a new dedicated Potholes Action Fund – with total roads maintenance funding equivalent to filling 20 million potholes a year.
- Expanding Help to Buy in London to help families realise their dream of home ownership. The Government will create a London Help to Buy scheme, offering a 40 per cent equity loan. This will mean buyers with a 5 per cent deposit can access an interest free loan of up to 40 per cent of the value of a new build home for five years. The scheme will mean people can make the most of the biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s with a doubling of the national housing budget to over £2 billion a year. Our bold plan to back families who aspire to buy their own home will deliver 400,000 affordable new homes by the end of the decade.
- Schools in London. We are rebuilding and refurbishing 87 schools in the worst condition through the Priority Schools Building Programme. We have opened 97 free schools in London since 2010 and have already approved application to open 64 more this parliament including one in Sutton.
This Autumn Statement delivers on the promise we made to working people in Sutton that we would put their security first. Securing enough housing and school places and better transport, healthcare and economic growth are all vital to local people. Whilst taking the difficult decisions to live within our means and bring our debts down, the measures in the statement will help achieve these improvements for Sutton. I have raised the issue of the police budget and its effect on neighbourhood policing directly with the Chancellor. I am delighted that he listened to MPs like myself and protecting the police funding in real terms. This is also part of protecting our national security by defending our country’s interests abroad and keeping our citizens safe at home. George Osborne also listened carefully about concerns regarding the proposed reform of tax credits and acted decisively using the improvement of the public finances to support the lowest paid in our society.
Our approach across the nation is not simply retrenchment, it is to reform and rebuild, with:
- Full funding of the Five Year Forward View put forward by the NHS itself as the plan for its future with the first £6 billion delivered up-front next year.
- The biggest real terms rise in the basic State Pension in 15 years. Thanks to our commitment to the triple lock, next year the basic state pension will rise by £3.35 to £119.30 a week.
- The biggest house building programme by any government since the 1970s with a doubling of the housing budget to over £2 billion a year.
- The phasing out entirely of the local government grant. By the end of the parliament local government will keep all of the revenue from business rates. We will abolish the uniform business rate so councils will be able to cut rates to attract new businesses, but because the amount government raises in business rates is much greater than the amount we give to local councils through the local government grant we will phase that grant out entirely and devolve additional responsibilities.
- New apprenticeship levy to deliver 3 million apprenticeships. This will ensure large businesses share the cost of training, but businesses with a wage bill below £3 million won’t have to pay. We will also increase funding for apprenticeships to make sure they are high quality apprenticeships.
- Real terms protection of the schools budget. We will maintain funding for free infant school meals, protect rates for the pupil premium, and increase the cash in the dedicated schools grant. We’re also going to open 500 new free schools and University Technical Colleges, and invest £23 billion in school buildings and 600,000 new school places.
- The largest ever investment in free childcare so working families get the help they need. From 2017, we will fund 30 hours of free childcare for working families with three and four year olds. We’ll support £10,000 of childcare costs tax-free and, to support nurseries delivering more free places for parents, we’ll increase funding for the sector by £300 million.
- The improvement in the nation’s finances used to help on tax credits. Because of the improvement in the public finances, the simplest thing to do is not to phase these changes in, but to avoid them altogether. Tax credits are being phased out anyway as we introduce universal credit.
- Average saving of £30 from the projected energy bills of 24 million households by introducing a cheaper domestic energy efficiency scheme.