The Island’s MP has welcomed Chancellor Philip Hammond’s budget as “good news for the Island”, but Isle of Wight Labour members have condemned it as “an attack on hard work”.
Conservative MP Andrew Turner said Mr Hammond’s “three key announcements on business rates, social care and the NHS bring good news for the Island.”
He argues that concerns about tax for self-employed people should not outweigh the benefits of the budget.
Mr Turner said:
“It has been a concern that some businesses on the Island are under pressure, and the revaluation of business rates has created more challenges. The Chancellor announced three measures to help those small businesses facing the biggest increases. Local authorities will receive a £300 million fund to provide relief for small businesses hit the hardest by the revaluation. No business coming out of small business relief will have a larger increase than £50 per month, and subsequent increases will also be capped. And local pubs with a rateable value of less than £100,000 will receive a £1,000 discount on the rates they pay.
“The Chancellor acknowledged that despite the hard work of many people the NHS and social care are struggling, particularly as the numbers of over 75’s is increasing. To help deal with that challenge Philip Hammond committed to an additional £2 billion grant funding; half of it available in 2017-2018. This funding will be used to help elderly patients to be discharged from hospitals when their treatment has finished and provide the care they need afterwards. This will be very welcome in areas like the Island with a very high elderly population.
“The NHS will also benefit from an additional £100 million for a triage project at hospitals around England next winter. To decrease waiting times at A&E departments, GPs will be made available through the triage. Discharges and A&E waiting times are two of the biggest challenges for the NHS. This budget demonstrates that the Government is committed to providing the NHS with additional funding linked to sustainable and strategic reforms.”
But Isle of Wight Labour says the government’s changes to National Insurance contributions will leave 9,000 self-employed Islanders “worse off”. The party has condemned the budget as:
“…an attack on hard work and entrepreneurialism that would cause unfair hardship on a large proportion of the Island’s working population – including those who had left or lost their jobs as the result of government austerity cuts.”
Isle of Wight Labour Party chair Deborah Gardiner said:
“Not only does this measure break a key Tory manifesto pledge it also attacks a significant group of people who have had the courage to set out on their own.
“The claims of the Tory government that they are on the side of working people has been shown to be an outright lie. I find it astonishing that on a local level, Andrew Turner with his high salary and expensive property portfolio, seems oblivious to the harm this ill-judged policy shift will do to great many people and their families.”