Last week’s Budget set a clear course for investment in the future, with a higher wage, higher skill economy. It was delivered against the backdrop of the pandemic which triggered the sharpest economic downturn in our history.
A downturn that has since turned around into the strongest bounce back of any of the major advanced economies of the World. This bounce back has only been possible because measures like the furlough scheme and bounce back loans enabled jobs and businesses to be protected while the pandemic was at its height. Due to the decisions that were taken, unemployment has been half what was feared and we have seen a strong recovery.
This is investment that our own community will benefit from. The new border facilities for customs and animal health will see over £80 million invested locally and more than 400 new local jobs created.
The Budget also saw £150 billion increased investment announced for our public services and a pay rise for public sector workers. The new money for the NHS in particular matters as it’s so important to clear the backlog of treatment people need that was delayed by the pandemic. £6 billion of this NHS investment will go into new diagnostic centres – of which Dover’s Buckland Hospital will be one. There is also a Winter Access Fund of £250million to help GPs provide more face-to-face appointments, extra telephone services and faster access.
£7 billion of new investment is being made to improve transport links. This will include Dover Fastrack, the rapid bus transit system connecting Whitfield with Dover Town Centre and Dover Priory Railway Station.
The Budget also saw £3 Billion of investment for skills. This matters because the pandemic has caused so much economic change. Many people will need to re-skill or re-train and the new investment will provide real help for many people.
It’s also important to make sure work always pays. The changes to the Universal Credit taper will support this. Currently, people keep only 37p of every extra pound earned. This will now increase to 45p, providing an extra work incentive for people on lower pay. It will be an extra help to many families locally.
The pandemic caused a real shock to our nation – and our economy. As the jabs get the virus increasingly under control, we will continue to experience the after effects for some time to come – as we can see with the shortages caused by the pandemic’s disruption to trade and supply chains, which has led to problems stocking some goods in the shops.
This budget is squarely aimed at boosting the recovery – growing our economy, increasing wages, higher skills and more investment to help the country recover and come back more strongly than ever.