Chancellor supports Borderlands Growth Deal

Borders MP John Lamont in Westminster.
Borders MP John Lamont in Westminster.

Borders MP John Lamont has welcomed the 2017 Budget, saying that it ‘delivers for Scotland’ and shows the effectiveness of the lobbying by Scottish Conservative MPs.

Extra investment in England and Wales means that the Scottish Government will also receive a £2bn budget boost next year.

Outlining the budget, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP praised the hard work of the Scottish Conservative MP group, saying: “I am getting used to the experience of having my ear-bent by my thirteen Scottish Conservative colleagues.”

The Chancellor also announced the UK Treasury would be supporting a new Borderlands Growth Deal, which will result in millions of pounds of investment across the south of Scotland and northern England.

John Lamont said: “This is a budget full of good news for Scotland. I’m pleased the UK Government has decided to sort out the mess created by the SNP over the VAT bill for Police Scotland.

“The confirmation that the UK Treasury is backing a new Borderlands Growth Deal has enormous potential for the Scottish Borders. I look forward to working with colleagues from all parties to ensure that this delivers for local infrastructure, transport and tourism in particular.

“A freeze in Whisky Duty was one of my key asks from this budget and it is great that the three new distilleries soon to open in the Borders will be receiving this boost.

“And with the Scottish Government receiving a £2 billion boost to its budget, there is now no excuse to punish hard working families with tax rises in Scotland.

“What this budget has demonstrated is that the approach of the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs in Westminster is working. We look forward to continuing to bend the ear of the Chancellor to deliver results for Scotland.”

Karen Betts, Scotch Whisky Association Chief Executive, said: “The freeze in duty is a welcome first step in securing a more competitive tax for Scotch Whisky in our home market.

“The industry would like to thank John Lamont and other Scottish Conservative MPs who have worked hard to help to secure this freeze.

“Looking ahead, the industry needs further support if it is to flourish at home and abroad. The tax burden on the average priced bottle of Scotch Whisky remains 80%, and we look forward to working with MPs to secure a fairer, more competitive tax system for strategically important domestic industries like Scotch Whisky.”

The Police and Fire Service will no longer pay VAT, creating a £35m annual cash boost to Scotland’s emergency services. The Scottish Government were warned by the Treasury and Scottish Conservatives that their model for the single police force would result in them being liable to pay VAT, but went ahead with the creation of Police Scotland anyway.

Measures also announced in the budget include:

Despite the additional public spending, the UK budget deficit will still fall to below 2 per cent by 2021.

As part of a £1.5bn package, entitlement to universal credit will now start from the date of the claim and a full month’s payment will be available within five days of applying.

Next year, National Living Wage will rise from £7.50 to £7.83 per hour.

The personal allowance will rise to £11,850 next year, meaning a typical basic rate tax payer will pay over £1000 less in tax than in 2010.

Tax breaks for transfers of North Sea oil and gas fields.

Stamp duty in England will be abolished for first time buyers in England on properties worth up to £300,000.