Last week’s news agenda was of course dominated by the Budget, and I thought I’d use my column this week to unpack some of the parts most relevant to East Hampshire.

So much of our local economy in East Hants is driven by small businesses; the VAT threshold change is significant for businesses hovering near the existing threshold. Alongside the National Insurance cuts for employees, there is also a cumulative benefit of £650 per year for the average self-employed person as well.

The Chancellor continued his commitment to support working parents by raising the earnings threshold for child benefit. This change to the high income child benefit charge has raised the level at which child benefit starts tapering off, benefiting some parents by an average of £1,260.

By April 2026 this charge will be made on the basis of household earnings, rather than the salary of the higher earner, as it is currently. I know from my inbox that this will be welcomed by a lot of local two-earner families.

Also very relevant for rural areas like ours was confirmation that fuel duty has been frozen for another year, (indeed the 14th consecutive year) keeping £50 in the pocket of the average motorist. Likewise, the freeze on beer and wine duty will support our publicans.  

The measures in the pandemic, like furlough and the business support schemes, were phenomenally expensive, which inevitably needs to be paid for. Those measures were right to do, because they kept people in jobs and meant we bounced back economically faster than Germany or France.  But now it is right to start to ease the tax burden and chart a path to how we can do more.

And just a reminder that my next public meeting is taking place in Alton on Thursday, March 21. Book a spot via my website