IN January, the Prime Minister set out his five priorities for government, writes Mark Harper.
Three of which were economic: to halve inflation, grow the economy, and reduce debt.
Since then, inflation has halved; the economy has recovered more quickly from the pandemic than first thought, and debt is on track to fall.
Thanks to the stability this has brought, we are now able to focus on the long-term decisions required to strengthen our economy: reducing debt; cutting tax and rewarding hard work.
To ensure work always pays under the Conservatives, the Autumn Statement cuts National Insurance Contributions (NICs) for 29 million people from 12 per cent to 10 per cent from January.
For the average worker earning £35,000 a year, this is a £450 tax cut.
The Government are also cutting NICs for 2 million of the self-employed with an average total saving of around £350 for someone earning £28,000 a year. We will do this by abolishing an entire class of NICs (Class 2) and cutting the top rate of NICs (Class 4) from 9 per cent to 8 per cent. From April 2024, no self-employed person will have to pay Class 2 NICs.
We are also raising the National Living Wage (NLW) to a record level of £11.44 an hour.
This represents a 9.8 per cent increase which will benefit 2.7 million workers.
It was a Conservative Government that introduced the NLW in 2016 and we are now increasing it yet again.
A full-time worker on the NLW will now see their pay increase by over £1,800.
Further still, the Conservative Government are supporting millions across the country with the cost of living by boosting pensions, in line with our Triple Lock, by 8.5 per cent – the same as average wage growth, ensuring dignity in older age for those who have worked their entire lives.
Additionally, all working-age benefits will be increased by 6.7 per cent, boosting 5.5 million households who receive Universal Credit – an average of £470 a year. This is 3.0 percentage points higher than forecasted earnings for 2024-25 and will help support the most vulnerable whilst inflation continues to fall.
Last week’s Autumn Statement would not be possible under Labour; they will always seek the easy way out with a reckless, permanent increase in borrowing that would see inflation and mortgage rates spiral.
It is only the Conservatives who can be trusted to make progress in tackling the long-term economic challenges facing the UK, ensuring we can build a more dynamic economy that delivers prosperity for everyone.