Constituency matters… a weekly column by the Member of Parliament for Folkestone and Hythe, Damian Collins 26 November 2023.
On 22 November the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, delivered his autumn statement to the House of Commons and was able to report back on the marked improvement in the economic outlook for this country in the past year. Inflation has halved, meeting the target set by the Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. It is now below 5% and on track to return to its target rate of 2%. This should also mean that we can look forward to interest rates falling once again.
Over the past few years taxes have increased in order to help pay for the costs of the Covid pandemic, however we have always said that our commitment would be to bring taxes down when the country could afford to do so. The government’s money is your money and taxes should never be higher than they are absolutely required to be. I was therefore pleased to see Jeremy Hunt announce in the autumn statement new tax cuts for working people and business. The government is cutting the main rate of National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from 12 per cent to 10 per cent. For the average worker earning £35,000 a year, that means a £450 tax cut. We are also abolishing an entire class of NICs and cutting the rate of the NICs top rate from nine per cent to eight per cent–a with an average total saving of around £350 for someone earning £28,000 a year.
In addition to these cuts in personal taxation, the Chancellor also announced an £11billion a year cut in business tax, the biggest in modern British history. This will be delivered by making full expensing permanent, enabling businesses to invest for less and offset investments against their tax bills. Jeremy Hunt also confirmed that the government will maintain the pensions triple lock and with that, the state pension will increase by 8.5% in April next year.
In Folkestone, from 20 November, we have also taken the first step in re-opening library services for the town centre. A new temporary library has been opened by Kent County Council in the Shepway Youth Hub building at Grace Hill. Here researchers will be able to access archive materials and readers will be able to order books. There will also be free wi-fi and access to computer terminals. The County Council is committed to providing a permanent town centre library, either the library at Grace Hill when restoration works can be completed on that building, or at a new location. Should the Grace Hill library move permanently, then I remain committed to working with Kent County Council to find a new use for the old library building, so that it remains a cultural asset for the people of Folkestone.
Folkestone and Hythe District Council has been discussing making changes to on street parking times and charges in the town centres of Folkestone, Hythe and New Romney, and in Sandgate. No decision has yet been made on this and the council’s cabinet has yet to decide whether it will launch a public consultation proposing any changes.
Ten years ago, I campaigned along with local town centre businesses, to keep free on street parking and I want to see this remain. We need to be doing all we can to attract people to our town centres. I would welcome hearing your views on this issue. You can let me know what you think be emailing email@example.com