HAVANT MP ALAN MAK: We can now look to 2017 with confidence
Last week's Autumn Statement was good news for our area, providing a boost for working people across Havant, while also tackling the long-term national challenges faced by the economy.
The chancellor’s mini-budget means a pay rise for the lowest earners, with an increase in the national living wage.
The personal allowance threshold is going up, meaning working people keep more of the money they earn before they start paying tax.
Alongside that tax cut, fuel duty was frozen for the seventh year, giving motorists relief and stopping price rises at the pumps.
The fact that Philip Hammond managed to help so many on middle and modest incomes, while continuing to bring down the deficit and make some long-term decisions to make Britain more productive, was a skilful balancing act.
As chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, I welcome the extra £4.7bn for research and development (R&D), providing a boost for our booming science and tech economy.
It is the biggest government investment into R&D since 1979, and can help create a new generation of entrepreneurs and innovators developing all kinds of revolutionary products – from thinking computers to driverless cars.
In Havant, we are already fortunate to have excellent connectivity, but the commitment to a new 5G network – quick enough to download a feature-length film in a matter of seconds – will help businesses grow.
Two new pots of money announced in the Autumn Statement provide funding for housing-related infrastructure, which will be helpful as new housing is built as part of Havant Borough Council’s Local Plan.
This includes a £2bn fund to support new housing infrastructure and £1.1bn from the new National Productivity Infrastructure Fund to relieve congestion and deliver much-needed upgrades on roads and public transport networks.
On strategic roads, an extra £220m will be available to tackle key pinch-points.
I’ll be working hard to support the council if they bid for some of this funding, and lobbying hard in parliament to secure it.
Overall, last week’s statement puts Britain on a strong footing as we head into 2017 and prepare for Brexit negotiations.
Havant’s economy is strong and growing with low levels of unemployment.
We can look to 2017 with confidence in the future.