MY WEEK IN WESTMINSTER

Mark Menzies MP with Alison Plackitt from independent bookseller Plackitt and Booth

It was Small Business Saturday this weekend, and I hope we all made a conscious effort to support the fantastic independent retailers in our towns and villages.

They create wealth for our area employing staff who spend locally, and small businesses pay their taxes.

I met with representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses in Parliament this week to talk about its new report, An Entrepreneurial North, focussing on what is needed to help small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive.

The organisation, founded and based in Blackpool, is positive about last week’s Budget.

I think the Chancellor made some strong decisions considering the pressure the country has been under following the financial crash and Labour’s vast overspending. Governments have no money of their own – it is your money. Any borrowing has to be paid back with interest, there’s no two ways about it.

As a country working together, we have managed to reduce the deficit, the difference between what we are borrowing and paying back, by two thirds. That means we are almost at the point where our interest payments start to reduce, and we will be able to inject more money into the economy.

The Chancellor still managed to find extra funds where it matters though.

I was delighted to see the announcement of a further £7.5 billion funding resources for the NHS over the next two years.

I am even happier to learn that any pay rises for our NHS staff will be funded over and above that £7.5 billion. NHS staff are worth investing in – they are treating more patients than ever before, and curing more cancers than ever before. I will be watching the independent pay review with interest.

The scrapping of Stamp Duty for four out of five first time buyers will get the housing market moving better, extended rate relief for pubs will help landlords, and a raise in the personal tax allowance puts money in everyone’s pockets.

Friday night saw AFC Fylde take on former Premier League club Wigan Athletic. It is great to see the club in the draw for the next  round of the FA Cup – perhaps against an even bigger side. They just have to beat Wigan in the replay first…

The club’s Community Foundation does great work across Fylde, helping not only to inspire the next generation of footballers, but also to ensure children from all backgrounds can take part in regular sports events.

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