Today (8th March) the Chancellor delivered his Budget to the Commons. Key measures were announced for Social Care, Education and Business Rates.
The Chancellor has committed to giving an additional £2 billion to social care over the next three years. £1 billion will be given next year to provide a bridge to when the Better Care Fund which is heavily back loaded and becomes available for Local Authorities in 2019. Councils will have to work with their NHS colleagues to make sure this is spent in the most effective way with a particular emphasis on reducing the level of delayed discharges of care.
It is good news that more money is being made available for social care. While this is clearly a short term solution the Chancellor also announced a Green Paper in which it will set out proposals to make the social care system sustainable for the long term. I welcome the Green Paper but we must make sure that it isn’t kicked into the long grass. The Dilnot Commission gave the Government many suggestions on social care which were not taken up – we need a long term solution for social care so I hope this Green Paper will deliver what is needed.
I have had a lot of correspondence on the effect of business rates and the proposed revaluation. The measures help relieve some of the additional burden that has been placed on our small businesses. While the Chancellor stopped short of abolishing business rates, he did make a commitment in the medium term to looking at how we tax those businesses which operate online. A promising step to level the playing field for our bricks and mortar business.
Alongside this there was a £1,000 business rate discount for pubs with a rateable value of up to £100,000 – 90% of all pubs - for one year from 1st April 2017. The Government also promised to consult ahead of its next revaluation in 2022. This is all good news for pubs who have suffered disproportionality due to these business rate rises.
Finally the Chancellor announced an increase in the number of hours of training for 16-19 year olds on technical education routes by more than 50% to over 900 hours a year. The Government also made the commitment to make sure every child has the opportunity of a place at a good school and, at the right school. This means investing £50 million in existing grammar schools while also investing £216 million in school maintenance programmes – bringing total investment to well over £10 billion in this Parliament.
Read my thoughts on the NICs increase here: https://goo.gl/Xfb0Co
Find a copy of the Budget here: https://goo.gl/g1UQNK
Find the Chancellor’s speech here: https://goo.gl/CBWq9a