Penrith and The Border MP Rory Stewart has responded to the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement, delivered this afternoon, and has in particular applauded the Chancellor’s commitment to progressing a devolved growth deal for the Borderlands region, including north Cumbria – a deal on which Rory has worked since initiating the proposal while a Minister in DEFRA, when he championed a place-based investment strategy to bolster economic growth in the rural communities of northern England and southern Scotland.

Rory said: “​This is another positive Budget for Cumbria. I am especially pleased to hear that the Chancellor has today agreed to open negotiations regarding a Borderlands Growth Deal – a major investment into the Border region that I began working on in my time as Minister at DEFRA, and which will herald investment​ in infrastructure and transport​, develop our existing industries (such as agriculture and tourism), and ​transform the Borderlands into a national example of productivity with high levels of innovation, and the internationalisation of small businesses as we look ahead to a new trading future.”

​“Cumbrians will welcome this pro-small business budget that​ supports our smaller firms – on which the economy in Penrith and The Border depends – with the current VAT threshold frozen, and a proposed switch from the Retail Prices Index to the Consumer Prices Index in April 2018 which ​will assist those feeling the burden of Business Rates. And there is plenty to be pleased about for all sectors of our society, and all those who contribute so much to our economy. Our young people will benefit from both reduced rail fares with a new Railcard, and from the abolishing of stamp duty for first-time home-buyers. Working families will see the benefits of an increase in both the National Living Wage and the tax-free threshold. And our rural communities will be relieved that the planned increase in fuel duty has, again, been cancelled​. In addition, we see continued investment of £500m in broadband and 5G technology – and a commitment to investing in digital skills education, which I would love to be able to harness in Penrith and The Border.”

“At a time when we are in challenging and unprecedented circumstances as a result of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Chancellor is steering a steady fiscal path through these uncertain times and there is a great deal to be positive about. Our economy continues to grow and the deficit to reduce. Today’s Budget underpins that growth through a number of measures that will bolster our economy as we leave the EU, while protecting ordinary people at home. We will continue to build homes, boldly address national productivity, set aside the funds we need to see us through Brexit, and support people in their everyday lives.​”

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