Penrith and the Border MP Rory Stewart has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, delivered this afternoon. In it, George Osborne set out details of further action the Government will take to keep Britain on the road to economic recovery.

The Chancellor unveiled a number of key measures to sustain growth. Measures that will be of particular benefit to Cumbrians include; a rise in the tax free personal allowance to £11,500 and the higher rate threshold increased to £45,000, a freeze on fuel duty for the sixth year running, as well as a freeze on beer and cider duty to back British pubs, £20 million a year of new funding for schools in the Northern Powerhouse to improve performance and retain the best teachers, and the introduction of a new Lifetime ISA with a limit of £20,000 – with which for every £4 saved, the government will contribute £1. In addition, he also pledged to support small businesses by creating a more simple, fair and competitive business tax system, with an increased small business rate relief threshold of £15,000, and £51,000 for those paying the higher rate. There will also be a cut in capital gains tax, corporation tax and stamp duty, and Class 2 National Insurance Contributions for the self-employed will be abolished.

There was yet more good news for Cumbria with the announcement of further investment in UK flood defences. The standard rate of Insurance Premium Tax will be increased by 0.5%, and the £700 million raised from this will be used to improve flood resilience and defences in areas affected by the recent storms. An urgent review is already underway by Environment Secretary Liz Truss and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster to determine how the money will be best spent. It was also revealed that the vital A66 and A69 routes will be upgraded to improve Cumbria’s infrastructure as part of the Northen Powerhouse project.

Speaking on the budget, Rory Stewart said: “The Chancellor has again shown that this government’s policy of greater fiscal responsibility is the right one, and we are now seeing a growth in our economy and a reduction in the budget deficit. I am absolutely delighted at the announcement of an extra £700 million for flood defences. And particularly delighted at the commitment of extra money for Carlisle and Cumbria. Communities have performed heroically during the recent floods, and it is only right that we do all we can to improve flood defences further across the County. I am also pleased to see further help pledged for small businesses, which will contribute to Cumbria’s own economic recovery – helping those affected by the floods to get back on their feet. As always, more needs to be done, but overall I believe that this budget has recognised the key issues we are currently facing in Cumbria and I feel positive about our economic future.”

Rory Stewart MP is encouraging sole traders to take advantage of the Small Business Rate Relief available from Eden District Council. For more details, please visit the Business Rates section of the Council’s website at

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