On the 3rd of March, the Chancellor of the Exchequer delivered his latest Budget. It set out a package worth over £407 billion of support for families, jobs, and businesses over this year and next.
In my time as a Member of Parliament, I have so far seen two Budgets and a Spending Review. The Spending Review in November set out the next step in the economic fight against COVID-19. It delivered billions of pounds in extra funding for our public services such as the NHS and oversaw an increase in the Living Wage, which was extended to younger workers for the first time in history.
Since then, more than 20 million people have been offered a vaccine against COVID-19. Community and workplace testing for COVID-19 has been accelerated. We can now finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, our way out of this crisis. The Budget this month builds on this progress and compliments the steps set out in our roadmap to recovery.
After a prolonged period of uncertainty, I am glad that the Budget – along with the roadmap – set out a long-term plan for economic recovery from COVID-19. I know that many constituents welcomed the extension to the Government’s income protection schemes that have helped to protect millions of jobs and kept business afloat. We also saw a new, £5 billion fund to help high street shops and businesses such as personal care and gyms restart. I want you to know about the support available to you, so I have ensured that my website is updated with the latest news.
Locally, we have seen over half a billion pounds invested in our community since I was elected as the MP. I have listed all of this on my website here. While the outbreak of COVID-19 has had a significant impact on our communities, I am pleased that the Government has not forgotten us. I will continue to ensure that this remains the case. We are building back better with an initial £15 million from the Government to support the National Brownfield Institute. We are supporting local commercial areas with £15 million from the Future High Streets Fund. We are developing local infrastructure with £25 million from the Towns Fund. And we are supporting local services with the City of Wolverhampton receiving an £11 million uplift in its core spending power from the Local Government Finance Settlement.
As we build back from the outbreak, I want to make sure everyone is included in our economic recovery. This involves levelling up training and employment opportunities, so that we can unleash the potential of our great city. I am delighted that the Government has confirmed that Wolverhampton is to become the first city outside of London to host a dual headquarters for a central government department - the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government. This will support hundreds of jobs. I am now working to ensure that our community gets its fair share of the new and extended Levelling Up Fund which will deliver the skills, infrastructure, and innovation needed to drive local economic growth.
Having worked in more than fifty countries, I have witnessed global Britain in action and I support its links with many trading partners, including those across the Commonwealth. I am proud to chair the local export programme. Working with the Department for International Trade, this will give local businesses the tools, knowledge, and the confidence that they need to harness the trade links that the Government can offer in over one hundred countries throughout the world. In 2019, over 700 businesses in our region exported to Japan alone. Now that there UK has signed over sixty trade deals, there is so much we can do to level up businesses and unleash their potential. I look forward to working with you to do so.