Westminster 33

 Sammy Welcomes Budget

Sammy welcomes the budget. While Corbyn splutters the Chancellor delivers without a cough.  
Sammy, DUP Treasury Spokesman in Westminster, has welcomed many of the measures in the chancellors budget speech on 22 November 2017 which reflected many of the issues which the DUP raised in a number of meetings with treasury ministers in the run up to the budget. It reinforces the relationship which we now have with the Government and are pleased that that influence has enabled us to deliver for the people in Northern Ireland but also to influence for good government policy for the people of the UK as a whole. 
Northern Ireland will experience a further increase in its block grant of £650m over the next three years along with the additional billion pounds already delivered and this will lift pressure on Government departments and enable important investment to take place. The £1m of Libor funding will enable investment in the Ely centre a facility for victims of the troubles and a scheme which we directly lobbied the Government on. The timetable for looking at reducing VAT in the hospitality industry and reducing Short haul Air Passenger Duty now means that by the next budget the government will be armed with the analysis to enable decisions to be made on these issues. The way forward on City deals which will be of immense benefit to local council investment plans also opens up opportunities for the whole of Northern Ireland.
We had encouraged the Government to continue to lift more people out of paying tax by raising the threshold in line with its own manifesto. This along with increases in the NLW and NMW will benefit the lowest paid in the economy. We also urged the chancellor not to reduce the threshold for registering for VAT a measure which would have been a huge blow to many small businesses in Northern Ireland and across the UK we are glad that he has delivered on both these issues. Small businesses in the hospitality industry will also benefit from the freeze in beer duty and duty on fuel, the latter very important to Northern Ireland which is heavily dependent on road transport.
On the wider national issues the changes in Universal credit, the freezing of beer and fuel duty, additional investment in housing as a means of helping young people and increasing productivity and lifting of the public sector wage cap are all matters which we encouraged the chancellor to address and are pleased that once again the Government has delivered on the arguments which were made.
As we prepare to leave the EU it is important to engage in early preparation for the changes which that will require to be made the £3000m investment announced is an important message to those in Europe who think we are not serious about going.
We are pleased that with our role in Westminster we have had an opportunity to help shape this budget which helps take the UK forward addressing skills, productivity, fiscal improvement, helping young people, supporting the low paid and getting us ready for life outside the EU. We will continue over the next five years to play a positive role in working with the Government while Corbyn and his crew seek bluster and seek ways of bankrupting the country.   
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