Simon Jupp spouts the party line, extolling the virtue of the budget, but can’t find much to say about East Devon – why not? Owl
Simon Jupp Conservative, East Devon 1:54 pm, 4th March 2021
Much has been said in the press about a perception that this Budget would be focused on the north. It may make a predetermined headline work, but it does not reflect the package of measures that will help every corner of our country, including my home county of Devon.
I joined a conference call with local hoteliers in East Devon last night, hosted by the excellent Sidmouth Town Council. The extension of the furlough scheme will help keep staff on the books as the hospitality industry reopens its doors in May with restrictions still in place. Much praise was heaped on the new restart grants, providing up to £18,000 to hospitality businesses. That will give hotels, pubs and restaurants across East Devon a welcome boost before the tourism season kicks in.
When they fling open their doors, the support continues with a suitably Conservative flavour by keeping taxes low to help businesses thrive. The extension of the VAT cut to 5% for hospitality, accommodation and attractions is something I have been calling for over several months, alongside further business rates relief. Both those measures are game changers for an industry hit really hard by the pandemic. I am glad that my calls to extend that support were heard and delivered in this Budget. East Devon’s economy is heavily reliant on hospitality, and the feedback from the industry is positive. I look forward to visiting many businesses across the constituency as they reopen.
While the support for the hospitality industry is nationwide, it will particularly benefit Devon, and the whole county will reap the benefits of several other announcements too. I fought hard to secure support for regional airports after the huge loss of Flybe and the impact of the pandemic. Only one flight landed at Exeter airport in my constituency today, which is not a huge surprise in the circumstances, but the past year has been a bitter blow to the aviation industry. The airport support scheme that I campaigned for will be extended for six months, as work continues on the long-awaited aviation recovery plan. It will take the aviation sector longer than most to recover from the crisis, and taxes, including air passenger duty, need urgent reform to help the industry back on its feet.
On the ground, more than £40 million of funding was included in the Budget to reinstate passenger services on the Exeter to Okehampton railway line. That will encourage more sustainable journeys across Devon and improve connectivity across the county and the city of Exeter, which I am proud to represent.
Another warmly welcomed announcement for Devon was a freeport, which will help to create thousands of jobs across our county. Businesses in Devon will benefit from more generous tax relief, simplified customs procedures and wider Government support, bringing investment, trade and jobs, which will help regenerate our county and our region. Meanwhile, the new future fund presents opportunities for businesses across Devon, including some based at the Exeter science park in my constituency. This £375 million fund will invest in highly innovative companies working in life sciences, quantum computing or clean technology.
The “rabbit out of a hat” Budget bonus was undoubtedly the new super deduction, which will cut companies’ tax bills by 25p for every £1 they invest in new equipment. To put that into perspective, it is worth around £25 billion to UK companies and will kickstart an investment-led recovery—exactly what our country needs.
It is not just our economy that will benefit from this Budget. Devon is home to many veterans, and I am proud to have the Royal Marines commando training centre in Lympstone. Those who risk their lives to protect our nation deserve our support. I was really pleased to see an extra £10 million invested in the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, which will deliver projects to support veterans’ mental health.
There is continued extra support for the lowest paid and most vulnerable on universal credit, and the national living wage will rise again in April. We are also helping people back into work with our plan for jobs. Some 140,000 kickstart job placements have been approved in the first six months of the scheme, with many of those in Devon. Whether it is support for sectors hit hard by the pandemic or investment and new opportunities across my home county, this Budget delivers for Devon and our whole nation in exceptionally difficult circumstances.