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It is a pleasure to follow Ann McKechin. Glasgow has been a European city of culture and I spent many happy years there as a student. She was much more negative than I plan to be. She forgot to mention the £63 million that Scotland will get out of the Budget although I think we agree that Scotland is better together with the United Kingdom given the forthcoming referendum in September.
The Secretary of State laid out very clearly how the Budget will help hard-working people and put Britain on a platform to a secure future. In my few remarks, I want to concentrate on how the Budget will impact on families and local communities in London and in my constituency of Brentford and Isleworth.
I thank the Chancellor for his support for London air ambulance. In his statement, he said:
“I will also relieve VAT on fuel for our air ambulances…and provide a new air ambulance for London, all in response to huge and heartfelt public demand and the campaigns of my hon. Friends the Members for Hexham (Guy Opperman), for Brentford and Isleworth (Mary Macleod) and for Argyll and Bute (Mr Reid).” —[Hansard, 19 March 2014; Vol. 577, c. 786.]
London air ambulance is an incredibly important cause. Because of the hard work of Dr Julian Thompson, Graham Hodgkin and the team at London air ambulance, it is saving lives around London. A new helicopter was needed because there was only one helicopter in London for 10 million people. Across the rest of the country, there is one helicopter for every 1.5 million people. The service in London has treated more than 30,000 high trauma cases and it saves lives across London. The Budget will help it to save more lives.
The Budget will help brewers, such as Fuller, Smith & Turner. Its Griffin brewery is in Chiswick in my constituency. It is London’s last remaining traditional family brewer—a great brewer it is, too. The 1p duty cut on beer and the scrapping of the escalator rise in alcohol duty will benefit 4,200 pubs and the more than 50,000 people the industry employs across the country, as well, of course, as its customers. That is another benefit of the Budget.
We have not heard much mention of the increase in the personal tax allowance. Hilary Benn said that the Government were standing up for the wrong people. How wrong can he be? I believe that increasing the personal tax allowance is standing up for the right people. Increasing the personal tax allowance to £10,500 in April 2015 will lift 31,000 hard-working people across London out of income tax altogether, and 3.3 million people will see an average real-terms gain. That is what is meant by standing up for the right people and hard-working people.
Tax-free child care is helping families and hard-working people across London and elsewhere. The scheme will be extended to up to £2,000 per child and extended up to 12-year-old children more quickly. The scheme will benefit more than 500,000 London children in working families.
Housing is a big issue in London and we have already heard much about it today. I welcome the extension to 2020 of the Help to Buy scheme, which will create stability for families. It was good to see that 85% of those on the Help to Buy scheme are first-time buyers. That, too, helps hard-working people and is standing up for the right people across London and the United Kingdom.
There is a strong hub of creative industries in west London—television, film, IT and so on—and I am very proud of it. The changes to film tax relief from
Locally, the Government are making a real difference, with record numbers of people in work, including record numbers of women in work. Some of the local achievements
I have seen in my constituency include being in the top 10 for business growth, lots of new companies moving into the area, current businesses expanding and growing, the creative industries hub becoming even stronger, and a record number of apprenticeship starts. That is what this Government have done as a result of the measures we have taken. Unemployment in my constituency is at a record low of 2.6%, down by 21.3% since May 2010. Youth unemployment is down by 29.5%, which is something to be proud of. For those who are unemployed, I invite them to Aspire, the jobs and apprenticeships world skills fair at West Thames college, which, with the support of Heathrow and others, is there to help people to get work.
This is a Government who are helping hard-working families—the people who need it most. This is a Government who believe in aspiration. This is a Government who are turning the country around to growth and prosperity for the future.