The Chancellor gave his Autumn Statement last week which outlined the decisions the Government is taking to boost growth, cut taxes for those on low incomes and ensure the richest pay their fair share. I particularly welcomed his announcement that the tax-free part of a person’s income would be increased from £8,105 to £9,440 next year. From next April, this move will bring the total number of Borderers lifted out of income tax altogether since 2010 to over 5,000 and give 47,500 local people a tax cut.
The Liberal Democrats are committed to introducing fairer taxes which is why we made raising the tax-free allowance our number one priority at the General Election. We are extremely glad to be fulfilling this pledge in Government and giving people support in challenging times.
Living in a rural area, people in Berwickshire depend on cars to get around which means the rising cost of petrol in recent years has been extremely challenging for local families. A number of my constituents contacted me ahead of the Statement expressing their concern about the planned 3p fuel duty rise in January and I made sure my colleagues in Government were aware of the strength of local feeling. I was therefore very pleased when the Chancellor announced he was scrapping the rise, saving Borderers money on their motoring costs.
Despite the tough spending conditions, these measures hopefully demonstrate that the Government is committed to helping households across the UK through these difficult times and I welcome the boost they will provide to people in this area.
As part of my regular meetings with our local public services, I met with NHS Borders last week to discuss the current issues facing the Board. These meeting are also an opportunity to bring my constituents’ concerns to the board’s attention so we discussed the future of the hydrotherapy pool which a number of my constituents have contacted me about. I was pleased to be able to raise this issue with senior health service figures and the meeting was, as ever, very productive.
I also met with the Leader and Chief Executive of Scottish Borders Council last Friday. We discussed a series of issues, including wind farms, rural broadband, welfare reform and the state of the roads in the region. As a follow up to this, I will be meeting senior planning officials in the New Year to have further discussions about wind farms.