There’s a lot of good news in yesterday’s Budget for the local economy.
The chancellor clearly recognises that businesses – and particularly High Street retailers – are under pressure, and the reduction in business rates for smaller retailers is welcome.
By giving businesses this extra breathing room, I’m hopeful that we can avoid, or at least mitigate, the price rises that many firms tell us are on the cards, so this is good news for consumers too.
However, business rates are also an important way of funding council services, and it’s important this measure isn’t paid for with further cuts to local government.
I’m pleased to see £675 million being made available to help our High Streets evolve, moving away from the traditional, retail-heavy model towards one that incorporates housing, leisure facilities and office space as well.
The future of our High Streets is an issue that the council has looked at extensively, and we look forward to working with Government to rejuvenate town centres across Lincolnshire.
Good connections are vital to both businesses, so I’m pleased to see increased investment in road maintenance, along with a commitment to developing new transport-related technology.
We know that workers will remain in, or move to, an area if there is decent housing, so the extra money for the Housing Investment Fund and the adoption of Oliver Letwin’s report on planning and housing will be helpful for businesses looking to attract and retain staff.
The additional funding for adult care should also boost the local economy. The adult care sector is one of Lincolnshire’s biggest employers, and this injection of funding should help businesses innovate and provide a better service.
And as home to a significant portion of the RAF, the extra £1bn of defence spending could also lead to further investment in the county, bringing opportunities for local suppliers and making local communities, schools and businesses more viable.
So all in all, there looks to be plenty of positives in yesterdays’s Budget for Lincolnshire.