ANNE MARIE MORRIS IS THE CONSERVATIVE MP FOR NEWTON ABBOT

Last Wednesday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, set out the 2020 Spending Review. Given that we find ourselves in the middle of a pandemic, it is quite right that much of the focus was on supporting businesses and individuals through Covid-19 and our recovery the other side.

Fundamentally we are in a difficult position and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have forecast that the economy will contract this year by 11.3 per cent – the largest fall in output for more than 300 years. We have faced a tricky year and it will continue to be difficult through the beginning of 2021.

But, we can and will get through this and, by investing money where it is needed most then we can build a brighter future.

Anne Marie Morris MP

Education is critical, be it childhood schooling or lifelong learning and re-training. Therefore, it was pleasing to hear the Chancellor confirming that the Government will be increasing the core schools budget by £2.2 billion in 2021-22, delivering a minimum 2 per cent increase per pupil and also investing £375 million in skills, delivering the Lifetime Skills Guarantee and reform of the apprenticeship system.

Where people have unfortunately lost their jobs or where young people are struggling to find employment, it is right that help is there to support people through the process and also upskill them, increasing their employment options.

Today’s settlement allows Local Authorities to increase their core spending power by 4.5 per cent and they will receive £300 million of new social care grant funding and will have extra flexibility to increase council tax bills by 2 per cent and Adult Social Care Precept by 3 per cent.

Taken together, this means an extra £1 billion to fund social care, which comes on top of the extra £1 billion social care grant provided this year, which will be maintained into 2021-22. But will it actually change anything?

Successive Governments have delayed tackling social care and what is required is a complete revolution in the way we look at, provide and fund social care in this country. This won’t be an easy task, but it is very much a necessary task and I would urge the Government to consider it one of their priorities once we got through Covid and stop stalling!

I welcome the creation of a new ‘Levelling Up Fund’ worth £4 billion for England, that will be used to invest in local infrastructure that has a visible impact on people and their communities and will support economic recovery. The fund will invest in a broad range of high value local projects up to £20 million, including bypasses and other local road schemes, bus lanes, railway station upgrades, regenerating eyesores, upgrading town centres and community infrastructure, and local arts and culture.

Anne Marie Morris MP
Anne Marie Morris MP

It will be open to all local areas in England and prioritise bids to drive growth and regeneration in places in need, those facing particular challenges, and areas that have received less government investment in recent years. I would argue that Teignbridge is a prime candidate for investment under these criteria and, as usual, I will be lobbying hard for us to get our fair share, both locally and across the South West.

One bit of specific local funding worth highlighting that the Chancellor confirmed almost £8 million of funding for the building of a new station at Edginswell. Whilst just outside the constituency, this station will provide greater access to Torbay Hospital for those in Dawlish, Teignmouth and Newton Abbot without access to a car.

As we exit ‘lockdown 2’ and enter the tiered system, I would encourage everybody, if possible, to support our local high streets and shops where possible. Whilst many businesses and individuals have thankfully been able to access at least some form of financial support (and thank you to the brilliant team at Teignbridge District Council for their work in facilitating that), repeated closure of businesses is having a devastating impact on livelihoods and prospect of a quiet January will simply spell the end for some.

Times have been tough and are likely to remain so for a while longer. Having said that, ‘community’ has, quite rightly, been a key part of the Covid fight so far and long may it continue!





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