Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart has welcomed the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement delivered today, announcing measures that will give a huge boost to Penrith and The Border, and to Cumbria: investment relief for SMEs and farm businesses, a dedicated Road Fund in which the local MP will lobby Parliament to incorporate a ring-fenced sum for the dualling of the A66, and a win for Rory’s long-standing campaign to cut National Insurance contributions, which he has lobbied Parliament on year on year since he was first elected in 2010.

Following a five year campaign for investment relief for small and medium-sized businesses, the Chancellor announced that the Annual Investment Allowance, which had been due to fall to £25,000 at the end of this year, would be raised to £200,000, and would remain there.

Rory Stewart said: “This is a budget windfall for Cumbrian workers, businesses, and for farmers too. In Penrith and The Border, SMEs employ 92 per cent of private sector employees, and the certainty of a generous, permanent increase in the Annual Investment Allowance will allow businesses such as Bells of Lazonby, with whom I have been calling for such a move, to invest in their staff, increase production and bring in more workers. Our rural economy will create employment and generate wealth in our towns and villages. SMEs need stability and simplicity in the tax system, and that is what the Government is providing.”

Small businesses in Penrith and The Border will also be given a boost by yet another cut in National Insurance contributions. This will relieve the financial burden on employers looking to hire staff, helping local businesses to grow and communities to thrive.

But it is not just good news for employers and their new staff: as Rory has argued since his election in 2010, earners in Penrith and The Border have a low average wage, and so the Government must look to reward work and put more money in their pockets. The Government has responded by introducing a new National Living Wage, at £9 an hour by 2020. Furthermore, the tax free allowance will be raised once again, to £11,000 a year. As the Chancellor said when making his statement, “The best way to support working people is to allow them to keep more of what they earn.”

Cumbria will also benefit from the Government’s new Roads Fund, and drivers will benefit from a further freeze in fuel duty. Rory has, today, written to the Department for Transport pushing hard for a ring-fenced fund to be dedicated to the dualling of the A66, following the recent spate of accidents and tragic deaths along the road.

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