Chancellor's budget splits opinions on the coast as Blackpool and Fylde MPs have their say on what it means for the area.

National growth has been revised since the Spring Statement earlier this year
National growth has been revised since the Spring Statement earlier this year
Share this article

Fylde coast MPs reaction was split along party lines to yesterday's Budget which Chancellor Philip Hammond said signalled that austerity was coming to an end.

While warmly welcomed by the coast's Conservative MPs, the apparent relaxation of the nation's purse strings was described as a "peanuts budget" by one coast opposition MP.

Gordon Marsden MP

Gordon Marsden MP

The Budget, while acknowledged today as being "flat real spending" by the Chancellor today with some department's budgets set to be cut, confirmed increased spending for the NHS, the bringing forward of income tax cuts with personal allowance will rise to £12,500 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000 in April 2019 rather than a year later as originally planned, plus the setting up of new mental health services, money to ease the pain of transition to Universal Credit, a digital services tax aimed at tech giants and extra money for councils for social care and road repairs.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys Conservative MP Paul Maynard acknowledged the difficulties of the past years but said there was some good news for the resort in the announcement.

He said: “This is a Budget which recognises the sacrifices the British people have made during years of austerity. On a national scale, the deficit has all but disappeared and we are now seeing the national debt also starting to fall for the first time. This happens on the back of record jobs growth, and the halving of youth unemployment.

“But locally, there were some really important announcements. Blackpool will clearly benefit from the decision to put more money the way of councils with high numbers of children in care. In addition, mental health has long been one of the biggest issues I have sought to tackle in this constituency.

Paul Maynard MP

Paul Maynard MP

"The 24 hour crisis line the Government will now fund as part of a £2bn package will help take pressure off the local police and the siting of mental health units in schools will help reduce the development of mental health issues.

“ I welcome the commitment of around £10,000 to every primary school and £50,000 to every secondary school, money which will help provide immediate support.

“I also know constituents will welcome the tax on companies like Google, the increased investment in Universal Credit, and the reduction in business rates for many local small businesses.”

But Gordon Marsden, Blackpool South's Labour MP said: "It's a peanuts budget which won't do anything for the people of Blackpool.

Mark Menzies MP

Mark Menzies MP

"Over all it will do very little for those who need it most and Blackpool specifically. There is no new real money to address the desperate cuts in school funding and lack of support for teachers.

"The £400m announced is largely for capital expenditure, even the Chancellor described it as being for 'little extras', this is peanuts at a time when School heads and teachers are scrabbling about for the means to do their jobs

"On social care the £650m figure additional money will barely scratch the surface of what is needed.

"Some of the figure announced is not new money most of it is forcing local authorities to choose between using it for adult or for children's care.

Blackpool Council has told me that if it is allocated on the same basis as the previous winter pressure funding, Blackpool's share would be £904,000. And further £1.5m for adult and children's social care.

These sort of figures are not going to go anywhere near addressing the very serious problems everyone knows about in Blackpool which has suffered nearly £700m in cuts in Government funding.

On education, there was nothing for Further Education or adult education. That means that Blackpool and the Fylde College will continue to have to fight very hard to deliver that support locally.

Although there was some money for apprenticeships for SMEs, there was nothing for the colleges they work with to deliver that training.

On the predicted growth figures of 1.6 per cent in 2019 and 1.4 per cent in 2020, he said the figures were still 1 per cent below the growth the nation had enjoyed over the past 40 years and it would do nothing to help a stagnant economy for towns such as Blackpool.

Fylde MP Mark Menzies said the budget would bring some aid to hard-pressed small businesses.

He said: "This is a budget that has put more money back in everyone’s pockets, while increasing investment in our public services.

“Our lowest earners will be some £890 a year better off, with 31 million people benefiting from tax cuts.

“I’m glad the Government has recognised the need for more mental healthcare services and the £2 billion of funding to help every A&E department and schools will help those in need and reduce pressure on other front-line services such as the police.

“I welcome the extra £10,000 for every primary school, and £50,000 for every secondary school to purchase new equipment.

“I am also delighted with the extra £420m which is immediately available for vital pothole repairs.

“This is also a budget for small businesses, with business rates cut by a third for two years for small retailers – a saving of up to £8,000 per year.

“Combined with a £675m future high streets fund to facilitate the redevelopment of underused high streets, the Chancellor is doing everything he can to help our town and village centres.”

Fleetwood's Labour MP Cat Smith said the Budget was a disappointment.

She said: "Theresa May raised everyone’s hopes last week by saying austerity was over but this weeks budget exposed that austerity continues. Ending austerity means fixing our broken public services, including our NHS, which have suffered eight years of cuts.

“For me personally what stood out was that the budget was delivered on the same day that a 1.1 earth tremor stopped fracking again here in Lancashire and the day before a major new report by WWF found that humans have wiped out 60 per cent of animals since 1970. And yet, in his budget, the chancellor failed to even mention climate change once.

“Britain desperately needs a government that can fix our public services, end austerity and understands the scale of the climate and environmental crisis unfolding, with the policies and ambition to demonstrate national and international leadership.”

Lancashire's Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw said he was angry and disappointed after the Chancellor ignored policing and gave no commitment to increase funding in the Budget statement.

No new money was announced for front-line policing with the only reference to the service being a £160m investment to maintain essential specialist counter terrorism provision.

He said: "Despite repeated claims that austerity is over, I am angry and disappointed that this budget failed to address any of the overwhelming issues facing policing – worst still the whole service was ignored.

"While I welcome investment into mental health, which should relieve some of the pressure on forces like Lancashire being used as the sole emergency service for mental health crisis,
the effects of eight years of austerity continue to be felt by every police officer and member of staff across the county who every day are dealing with increasing and complex demand,
working around the clock to keep people safe."

He added that the Budget statement came just days after the government announcement to increase employer pension contributions for policing which has left forces being asked to urgently find £165m, potentially undermining all previous planning assumptions and resulting in even fewer officers on the streets of Lancashire.