impact of the budget on penrith and the border
This is a fantastic budget for Penrith and the Border. Our economy depends on four things: small and medium sized businesses (which prop up our incredible tourism industry), fuel prices (because of our long distances), infrastructure (such as broadband) and agriculture. We’ve made huge progress on broadband and, following the visit of the Defra Ministers last week, on support for our farming. The Budget gives us the final elements of support to small businesses and fuel. Penrith and the Border has almost the highest concentration of small businesses of anywhere in the country: 92% of our businesses employ less than 10 people. The Chancellor promised today that businesses employing less than 10 people will face no new regulations for three years. He has also doubled the capital investment allowance (which is very important for our medium-sized manufacturers) and will cut corporation tax by 2% this year and 1% in each subsequent year. I have spent much of the last few weeks lobbying the Treasury and the Chancellor to drop fuel duty and I am delighted that he has responded with a 1% cut in this Budget.
Even more promisingly for us is the growth potential from education, training and the Green Investment bank. Our constituency is a leading example of apprenticeships from Clark Door in Carlisle, training high quality apprentice engineers, through to Innovia in Wigton to the butchery apprentices that I met at Cranstons last month. This Budget allows for 40,000 additional apprentices and 100,000 additional work places. The Green Investment Bank will allow the government to invest £3 billion into the economy. This will not only support projects such as the Bongate Hydro in Appleby and its piloting of ground-breaking SMEC technology, but will also provide much needed credit and demand as we come out of a difficult economic cycle. These are difficult times; the Chancellor has taken a very cautious approach to public finances and rightly did not try to put too many headline giveaways into the Budget. It is a cautious and responsible start to the recovery. But its focus on small businesses and its understanding of rural areas makes it a great Budget for Penrith and the Border.