Delivering the budget is one of the busiest and most exciting days in Parliament for my team and I. This year was even more interesting as it was the first budget I have been involved in since I was appointed to the Government Whips Office. It is always interesting to see how the House works and adapts to change especially as the Chancellor delivered this year’s statement amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to the budget I discussed North Cornwall’s financial priorities with my staff and fed this back to the Treasury. This year, the main issue from an economic perspective was the protection of my constituent’s livelihoods, financial wellbeing, and our local businesses. North Cornwall has a higher percentage of self-employed people than most constituencies and I am very pleased that we will introduce a fourth grant covering the period February to April, worth 80 per cent of people’s average monthly revenues. From May, a fifth grant will be available which is more targeted towards those most affected by the pandemic: people whose turnover has fallen by more than 30 per cent will receive the 80 per cent grant, while those whose turnover has fallen by less than 30 per cent will receive a 30 per cent grant. We will also ensure that people who became self-employed last year, and filed their 19/20 tax return by 2 March, will now be eligible for both grants. Overall, we will have spent £33 billion on the self-employed, among the most generous anywhere in the world.
As we reopen our economy, I felt it was important that people in North Cornwall have the assurance that their jobs will still be there to come back to. I made this clear in my discissions with the Treasury team and I am also pleased that the furlough has been extended until the end of September. The furlough scheme has already supported 11.2 million jobs across the UK, worth £53 billion. But to provide further certainty, we are extending the scheme until the end of September. Employees will continue to receive 80 per cent of wages for hours not worked, but as businesses reopen, we will ask them to contribute 10 per cent of wages in July, and 20 per cent in August and September.
This Budget will also unlock more than £40 million of funding to reinstate passenger services on the Okehampton - Exeter line, subject to final approval of costs and contracts. The reopening of a second line to support Cornwall has been a pledge of mine since my first election so I am very pleased that this project has been formalised (subject to final approval) in the budget. The Devon MPs and Devon County Council have been instrumental in delivering on the Okehampton line, but I would also like to highlight the efforts of the campaign groups Oke Rail, and Connect Bude, who I have worked closely with over the past six years.
Please visit my website to read more about the 2021 budget at www.scottmann.org.uk/news.