Looking beyond Brexit
It’s often said that Brexit is so demanding on the Government’s time that little else is being done. But announcements this week were a good reminder that, despite the current political dramas, much is being achieved elsewhere.
First, with the new tax year came a significant reduction in personal taxation that has put more money in people’s pockets.
32 million people received an income tax cut, including more than 45,000 people in my Arundel & South Downs constituency, because of the increase in the personal allowance.
This threshold at which people start paying income tax has increased to £12,500, an increase of £650 this year alone and almost double what it was in 2010.
It means that the basic rate taxpayer will pay over £1,200 less income tax than they did in 2010.
And 1.74 million of the lowest paid workers have been taken out of paying income tax altogether, 234,000 in the South East alone.
The lowest paid have also been helped by increasing the National Living Wage, benefiting over 2.4 million people, around 188,000 of them in the South East.
The National Living Wage was increased from £7.83 to £8.21 on 1 April, a 4.9 per cent increase – giving a full-time worker a further £690 annual pay increase and taking his or her total pay-rise, since the introduction of the National Living Wage, to over £2,750 a year.
Freezing fuel duty for the ninth successive year will also save the typical driver the average car driver £1,000 by 2020 compared to the fuel duty plans in place in 2010. This is especially valuable help in our rural area where people depend on their cars.
The full State Pension is also increased by 2.6 per cent this year, giving pensioners nearly £170 more a year.
The second announcement this week was about safety on the internet. In the first laws of their kind, social media companies and tech firms will be legally required to protect their users, facing tough penalties if they do not comply.
Some oppose any regulation at all of the internet and social media, but I think the companies concerned should be required to shoulder their responsibilities. The internet can be a powerful force for good, but it can also be a place where harm is promoted, and the victims include children. It is right for the Government to take action.
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