Leigh Observer Column - 5th November 2018

Budget day is one of the most important days of the Parliamentary year, setting out the future plans for our economy and the spending plans for our vital public services. Last week the Chancellor delivered a strong budget, not only underlining the solid recovery of our economy but also looking forward to our future outside the European Union.

UK unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975, with the creation of more good quality jobs, fewer people on zero-hours contracts and halving the number of young people out of work. Wage growth is also set to rise above inflation in each of the next 5 years, meaning that people will have more money in their pockets. Due to the Conservative’s balanced approach to the economy, these improvements are only set to continue.

Ultimately, people are not so concerned about the figures in the budget which appear abstract or meaningless, rather they want to know what this means for them and what impact this will have upon their day-to-day lives.

I was pleased to hear the Chancellor confirm that an additional £37million has been committed to the development of Northern Powerhouse Rail, building on the government’s £300million commitment to the improvement of northern railways. This will mean that the North will see further much needed rail improvements and ensure that we have a rail service that delivers for us in the future.

Our economic improvement has also meant that our schools have seen more investment, improving the quality of our schools so that children get the best start in life. In Bolton West and Atherton, 89% of schools are now rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted compared to 2010, where only 54% of schools in the constituency achieved these same ratings.

Not only is this due to the hard work of teachers, support staff, children and their parents, it’s also due to the increased investment in our children’s futures.

With the Chancellor’s announcement of an additional £2 billion being spent on education over the next two years, bringing the total spent on education to a record high £43.5 billion in 2019-2020, I hope that even more children in the future will have access to the good quality education that they need and deserve.

It’s also been fantastic to hear the optimism of local businesses about their future when I visit businesses both small and large across the constituency. Just a few weeks ago I visited E.ON’s Horwich offices and heard of their plans for a major recruitment drive and their desire to stay and create more jobs for people from Bolton West and Atherton.

The positivity of business is also being seen across the UK. In recent weeks Boeing opened its new facility in Sheffield, creating fantastic new job opportunities and representing a £40million investment for its future in our country.  We’ve also seen Unilever commit to operating out of the UK in the future and iconic French brand Chanel choosing London as the home of its new global office. After China, the United Kingdom receives more inward investment than any other country in the world, including the USA and Germany.

Last week’s budget was especially important, marking the last budget before our exit from the European Union. A series of measures were outlined by the Chancellor to send a message to the world that we are very much still open for business. As announced in the budget, not only with EU citizens be allowed to use e-passport gates, visitors from Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Australia and the USA will too be able to use these gates, a great symbol of Britain’s outward looking future outside of the European Union.

This budget demonstrated that the UK delivers, not just for businesses but also for the people who have worked hard to ensure that our economy has continued on the track to recovery. With the increased investments in key public services and with projections that our economy will continue to grow in the coming years, I believe that our future outside the European Union is one to be enthusiastic about.