MP welcomes 'listening' Chancellor's Budget boost

There was much in Philip Hammond's Budget this week to stimulate the Dumfries and Galloway constituency economy.

Local MP Alister Jack, who along with Scottish colleagues held pre-Budget discussions with the Chancellor, confirmed Mr Hammond had listened and delivered on a number of suggestions they put forward.

Mr Jack welcomed more than £950 million extra coming to Scotland in the next financial year through the Barnett Formula, including £550 million he hoped the Scottish Government would choose to invest in NHS Scotland. 

Over the next five years an additional £2 billion of potential extra Scottish health spending will be allocated.

Mr Jack welcomed confirmation that further progress was made in finalising the Borderlands Growth Deal and, more widely, support for the fisheries and oil sectors.

Increased funding for defence, counter-terrorism and mental health care for armed-services veterans were also given the thumbs up.

Mr Jack said: "Many workers in Dumfries and Galloway should gain -- thanks to UK personal tax allowance being raised. 

"Whether Mr Hammond's plan to raise the higher tax rate starting point to £50,000 in the rest of the UK will also be applied to Scotland is a devolved matter for the Scottish Government to decide on. 

"I hope the tax differential between Scotland and the rest of the UK does not widen further.

"I'm particularly pleased that substantial extra funding will give additional protection to benefit recipients during the ongoing programme to transfer to the simpler Universal Credit system."

The Dumfries and Galloway MP urged the Scottish Government to mirror measures in England by increasing investment to regenerate town centres, incentivising public toilets provision and extra investment for dealing with potholes.

Mr Jack said: "Cars are a necessity for many in a rural constituency like Dumfries and Galloway and the decision to freeze fuel tax for a ninth year will be widely welcomed as will be the freeze on spirits, cider and beer duty."

He added: "Philip Hammond has proved a listening Chancellor who has produced the right budget to help the region and the whole country meet the challenges and opportunities ahead."