I was in the chamber of the House of Commons to listen to the Chancellor’s first Budget.
There was a genuine sense amongst my colleagues of a brighter future ahead - the economy is growing and inflation is falling.
Halving inflation is one of the Prime Minister’s key pledges, and we are on the way to achieving that goal. The Chancellor said yesterday that the Bank of England forecasts inflation to fall to 2.9% by the end of this year – meaning that inflation will be cut by a third.
A growing economy and falling inflation will have a direct effect on people’s lives and livelihoods across Northumberland. What struck me most listening to the Chancellor yesterday was the emphasis he placed on helping families, including young parents in Tynedale and Ponteland.
I want every child in Northumberland to have the best start in life. We continue to see significant investment in our local schools to make this a reality. Last year, the government announced an additional £2.3bn for our schools. This investment is having a direct impact on the life chances of our children. This coming year, Northumberland County Council is receiving an additional £9.4m for our local first schools, middle schools, nurseries, and high schools to raise standards and the quality of teaching in our schools so that our kids can enjoy the best education possible.
The Budget builds on the investment we have seen in our local schools over the last decade. Since 2015, £98.1m has been invested in our four local high schools, with the schools at Haydon Bridge, Queen Elizabeth High School, Ponteland and Prudhoe having been fully rebuilt or refurbished.
As well as investing in school-age children, the government is supporting families with younger children with the cost of childcare. The extension of free childcare - 30 hours a week for working families with children between nine months and four years is truly transformational. It will help young parents juggle family life with working life, helping them with the costs of raising a young child, saving the average family £6,500 every year, and reducing their childcare costs by nearly 60%.
I know it’s been a tough year for families across Tynedale and Ponteland as we struggle with the cost of living and the pressures of raising young children. I am confident that the measures in this Budget place us well on the way to economic recovery and a prosperous future.