Simon Clarke is Chief Secretary to the Treasury and MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.
This Spending Review and Budget is historic, coming a year after we faced the deepest recession in a century.
We worked non-stop to achieve our mission to protect the British public. Protecting public health was our absolute priority and by delivering over £400 billion of support we were able to shield this country from the unprecedented threat of the pandemic.
Our plan for jobs worked. Through furlough, Bounce Back Loans, and Self-Employment Income Support we protected the economy and unemployment is half the level that was initially feared.
With that same undimmed spirit we now look to the future to improve the lives of the British people. Our mission is to create an economy of higher wages, higher skills and rising productivity.
By investing in public services, creating vibrant communities and making work pay, we will level up opportunities and create a stronger economy for everyone in this country.
The huge £150 billion increase in investment in public services, announced by the Chancellor yesterday, underlines our dedication to this mission.
A £6 billion investment in our health service will fast track millions of health service screenings by setting up 100 community diagnostic centres to clear the waiting-list backlog.
This builds on our £42 billion investment announced in September for health and care services.
We are investing in the vital public services we all rely on. £7 billion to revolutionise transport links so that places like my hometown of Middlesbrough will be modernized for the people who live and work there. This will be repeated all over England, with improvements earmarked for Greater Manchester’s Metrolink, tram networks in South Yorkshire and the West Midlands, and battery packs for Merseyrail trains.
We are investing to create vibrant communities, with hundreds of thousands of people will benefit from a multi-billion-pound skills revolution that will unlock opportunity across the country and build a stronger economy.
This revolutionary £3 billion investment will mean that those who want to learn and get on will be able to do so in their local area. Together with the £6 billion allocated to the DWP to give everyone a chance to have a fresh start and progress in work.
We are creating a stronger, skills-based economy for everyone.
This Government is on the side of working families and we are cutting the Universal Credit taper rate from 63p to 55p and increasing Universal Credit work allowances by £500 per year.
Millions of the UK’s lowest-paid workers will receive an inflation busting pay rise, an extra £1,000 a year for a full-time worker. In addition, millions of nurses, doctors and teachers are set to see their pay rise next year.
We are making work pay.
As we build for the future, I know that many families will have felt the consequences of global shortages, which are driving up everyday costs. So we need to take action now.
That’s why we have reduced the cost of living by freezing alcohol duty rates on beer, cider, wine and spirits. And by freezing fuel duty for the twelfth year in a row – cutting the price at the pumps for millions of workers – a culminative saving of over £1,900 for the average driver.
Our mission is to create an economy that works for everyone, while protecting people from factors out of their control. This Spending Review and Budget is the first step in transforming lives and driving change and I am very proud to play my part.