2018’s budget offers some key announcements that will positively affect many in the constituency and bolster our local communities. Highlights include extra funding for social care, mental health support in communities, and business rate cuts for small businesses.
I welcome the Chancellor’s announcement that he will make available a further £650m of grant funding for English Local Authorities for 2019-20. This will enable local councils to provide greater support for older people with care needs as well as help more children to live safely at home. It is vital that we continue to look at ways to support our social care system and this is a step in the right direction for integrating health and social care, which our communities desperately need. Hopefully this spirit will be replicated in the forthcoming social care green paper. The Budget provides £84 million over 5 years, to help more children to stay at home safely with their families. It is vital that we are able to return young people to a family environment, if it is safe to do so.
Mental Health Services
The new NHS 10 year plan will increase mental health funding by more than £2 billion a year by 2023-24. This commitment will enable comprehensive mental support to be available in every A&E department as well as the setting up of a new 24-hour mental health crisis service. Especially welcome is the provision of crisis teams within communities, creating a much-needed resource for areas that need the help the most. Crucially, these services will take pressure off other public services such as the police, probation and social services. They will also ensure that people with mental illness can return to, and stay in, work, boosting employment and productivity.
To mark the centenary of the First World War this year, the Chancellor has also made a £10 million donation to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust to support veterans with mental health needs. It is right that we do everything we can to support those who have so bravely served this country and I am glad to see mental health prioritised so highly in the budget.
Apprenticeships are a fantastic way of helping young people start a career in an industry, therefore I welcome the news that the government will provide up to £240 million to halve the co-investment rate for apprenticeship training to 5%. This will enable training providers to work with smaller businesses to offer more apprenticeships to young people in our local community. The government is committed to creating 3 million new apprenticeships by 2020.
Helping the High Street
To help our high streets, a £675 million Future High Streets Fund is being made available. This fund will support councils to implement plans for the transformation of their high streets. Businesses rates for small businesses will be cut by one third for two years. This is for retailers with rateable value of under £51,000, saving up to 90 per cent of all shops up to £8,000 each year, and building on previous reductions worth more than £12.5 billion. The Chancellor is also introducing a 100 per cent relief for public toilets, benefiting many town and parish councils. To help level the playing field further for our high streets, big tech firms will also be required to pay tax on sales they generate in the UK.
Our air ambulance services work tirelessly to get those with life-threatening illnesses and injuries to the expert medical care they need and I was delighted to hear the Chancellor announce he is making £10m of funding available to help them to go on doing so. Devon Air Ambulance run an amazing service and I hope this funding benefits them.
The Dawlish Line
Finally, Dawlish did not make it into the Chancellor’s speech but it was included in the full budget in the red book. It was announced that following the £15 million of funding committed in November 2016, essential work will begin this November to strengthen the cliffs and protect the seawall at Dawlish. Plans for major improvements for the seawall at Dawlish will be published next summer.