The Budget: Summary and Welwyn Hatfield reactions
PUBLISHED: 16:21 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:24 22 November 2017
Welwyn Hatfield politicians have given their thoughts after Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled his Budget today.
Among the headline-grabbing announcements were abolishing stamp duty for most first-time buyers, pumping £1.5billion into the Government’s Universal Credit scheme, as well as £3billion on Brexit planning and £2.8billion on the NHS until 2022.
Welwyn Hatfield’s Conservative MP Grant Shapps lauded the “excellent” stamp duty move, which will apply to the first £300,000 of a property’s value, adding it will help local people onto the housing ladder.
He also praised the adjustment to Universal Credit, which had sparked widespread criticism locally across the political spectrum ahead of its introduction next month.
Mr Shapps said: “I strongly welcome the change I was calling for with Universal Credit, before its introduction here in Welwyn Hatfield.
“Specifically, the Chancellor announced removing the seven-day waiting period for new claims, enabling access to a full month’s payment within five days of applying, and new claimants able to access their Housing Benefit for a further two weeks.”
Welwyn Hatfield Labour group leader Kieran Thorpe said: “This limp death rattle of a leaderless Government cannot hide their record of failure, and they are incapable of diverting from a course that increases the problems affecting this country.
“The thoroughly discredited austerity programme has crippled public services and caused real harm to the people of this land. “Every year all the Conservatives deliver is more debt and missed targets.
“More money has been pledged for Brexit than has been given to deal with the neglect of the NHS.
“Councils are still being made to cut services while taxes go up. Anyone cheering this budget needs to have a word with themselves.”
Welwyn Hatfield Chamber of Commerce chairman Nick Brown said its immediate reaction was “favourable”, adding the biggest positive from a business perspective was the Brexit funding.
He added: “Most welcome to business will be the £3billion to prepare to leave the EU on WTO [World Trade Organization] tariff terms, freeing us up to trade with the rest of the world and reduce our national debt.
“This would also leave the EU having to chase us for access to our market on our terms.”
Other notable announcements included freezing duty on beer, wine and spirits, equating to 12p off a pint of beer, and a two per cent rise above Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation for tobacco, equating to 28p on a 20-pack.
There will also be £44billion invested to help build 300,000 homes each year by 2025, £500million to support 5G mobile networks and £540million to help boost electric car usage.