The Budget

On Friday I was reminded that, despite our economic difficulties, there are success stories in this country. 

Rolls-Royce may now be owned by BMW, but from its stunning factory in Goodwood it employs more than 1,400 people and exports cars around the world.

Last week was National Apprenticeship Week, so I was particularly pleased to meet a number of the apprentices at Rolls-Royce who have been given the opportunity to learn their trade.

It was a reminder of how important it is for young people to have opportunities like this - which is why the 1.25 million extra jobs created since the last election matters so much.

Young people also want somewhere to live, a real problem locally where property prices are so high.  One of the young workers, who had started as an apprentice, told me how he had started to save for a deposit that still seemed way out of reach.

So the Chancellor's ‘Help to Buy Scheme', announced in his Budget this week, giving people equity loans of up to 20 per cent to help them buy, seemed good news.

The Budget's theme was aspiration, helping those who work hard and want to get on.  So there were also measures to help with childcare, and the personal tax allowance will be raised to £10,000 from April next year - a tax cut for 24 million people.

There was also help for businesses, with a cut in Corporation Tax so that by 2015 it will be the lowest of all the major economies in  the world, and a new Employment Allowance for businesses, cutting their National Insurance bill by up to £2,000.

Many constituents have contacted me about fuel duty, so they will have pleased that it was frozen again.  People were also concerned about beer duty and the impact on our local pubs, so cutting the planned increase and actually cutting the duty should raise a glass.

The downturn in the US and Europe has affected our recovery, and it will take an extra two years before the debt starts to fall.  But our annual deficit has now been cut by a third, and a credible fiscal plan has meant that interest rates are at record lows. 

That means cheaper mortgages for families.  These are tough economic times, but it's the future of young people like those apprentices at Rolls-Royce that we need to think of - those who work hard and want to get on.

Christopher N Howarth