Rather unsurprisingly, there was a difference of opinion between West Berkshire’s Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in response to the Chancellor’s budget earlier this week.
Philip Hammond revealed his spring budget to the House of Commons on Wednesday, with some of the big talking points including a rise in National Insurance contributions for self-employed workers.
Business rates were also on the agenda, with Mr Hammond committing to a review into how they are calculated.
This was welcomed by Newbury MP Richard Benyon, who said: “I am pleased with how much this Government has done to support small business.
“When we came into Government in 2010 corporation tax was at 28 per cent, now it’s 20 per cent and set to fall to 17 per cent by 2020.
“But the latest business rate revaluation has exposed serious flaws in how the system works. That is why I am delighted by the Chancellor’s commitment to conduct a full review into the ratings system before the next round of valuations.”
He was also pleased with news that 90 per cent of pubs would see a one-year £1,000 discount on their business rates, and that local authorities would receive an extra £300million to help businesses struggling with increased rates.
But the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for Newbury, Judith Bunting, was less impressed with the budget.
The party had been calling for a £4billion funding boost for the NHS and care services, which would have amounted to around £4m for services in West Berkshire.
But this wasn’t included, and Mrs Bunting said: “The Government is refusing to stump up the extra cash NHS services in West Berkshire so desperately need.
“This is a woefully inadequate response to the impossible pressure our NHS and care services are under.
“Chronic underfunding of our NHS is leading to longer waiting lists, cancelled operations and loved ones being stranded in hospital.”
Other key points in the budget included a freeze on fuel duty for a further year, the duty on alcohol to rise in line with inflation, and a reduction in tax-free allowance on share dividends.