View from the House

Surrey Herald/News - - LET­TERS - with Do­minic Raab MP for Esher & Wal­ton

ON De­cem­ber 3, the Chan­cel­lor gave his Au­tumn State­ment on the econ­omy to the House of Com­mons. The oc­ca­sion has be­come, in ef­fect, a ‘mini-Bud­get’ for the next six months. I was pleased to see two long-stand­ing cam­paigns of mine bear some fruit. Since be­com­ing the MP for Esher and Wal­ton in 2010, I have been talk­ing to lo­cal re­tail­ers, from Mole­sey to Wal­ton, about the high cost of busi­ness rates and the un­fair ad­van­tage this gives to on­line traders. So it was wel­come to see Ge­orge Os­borne ex­tend the dis­count for small busi­nesses and launch a full re­view of busi­ness rates, to re­port in time for the 2016 Bud­get. The Chan­cel­lor also an­nounced ma­jor re­form of stamp duty. This un­fair and in­ef­fi­cient tax has hit fam­i­lies in Elm­bridge dis­pro­por­tion­ately hard, com­pared to other parts of the coun­try. The new sys­tem will cut stamp duty for all homes cost­ing £937,000 or less but in­crease it for most homes cost­ing more. The vast ma­jor­ity will gain lo­cally.

Still, the risk is that ris­ing house prices in the years to come will drag more and more mid­dle-class buy­ers and sell­ers into pay­ing the new higher rates. So, as I ar­gued in Par­lia­ment, it is vi­tal that the gov­ern­ment links the thresh­olds to house price in­fla­tion, so stamp duty does not re­turn to be­ing a stealth tax on the mid­dle classes. More broadly, the Au­tumn State­ment pro­vides a good snap­shot of the state of the econ­omy. It con­firmed that Bri­tain is cur­rently the fastest grow­ing of any ma­jor ad­vanced econ­omy. Since 2010, the econ­omy has grown by more than 8%, the bud­get deficit has been cut by around a half and un­em­ploy­ment is down to 6% (from 8% un­der Labour). There is still a long haul ahead. But, over­all, this Au­tumn State­ment was good news for Elm­bridge and good news for Bri­tain.

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