Burnley MP Antony Higginbotham column / So many parents in Burnley who want to return to work will benefit from 'landmark' change offering 30 hours a week of free childcare
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And that’s exactly what the Chancellor set out in his spring budget this week. In the run up to Wednesday’s announcement I’ve been doing everything residents would expect. Meeting with ministers, the Chancellor and the Prime Minister and raising the issues brought up with me both on the doorstep and during my weekly surgeries.
Many will be pleased to hear a number of key measures. One of the biggest was breaking down a big barrier that stops people from working - childcare. Providing 30 hours a week free childcare for children all the way down to those aged 9 months old is a landmark change. And one which will benefit so many parents within our borough. For those who question whether it’s worth going back to work with young children we can now decisively say, it will be.
And to help the sector deliver this, there’s a transition period, grants to incentivise childminders, and an increase in the funding being given to providers. We also know that businesses locally have been struggling to recruit. To help them, and those out of work, changes are being made to the social security system too. This will increase the one to one support offered to jobseekers; bring penalties for those not taking up reasonable offers of employment; and offer targeted help to those with a disability who want to work, but feel the system penalises them for doing so.
But filling vacancies alone won’t be enough. We also need to incentivise local businesses to grow and create jobs. This was another big focus. With full capital expensing introduced those businesses in Burnley that invest in new machinery and expansion will see their tax bill fall.
To help families the Energy Price Guarantee has also been extended for a further three months, ensuring energy bills don’t increase as they were forecast to do; freezing fuel duty for the 13th year in a row, with an extension to the 5p per litre reduction; and ending the premium paid by those households using prepayment energy meters, ensuring fairness for all bill payers.
People aren’t daft - we all know these are undoubtably challenging times but it’s clear the chancellor has the right approach for sustainable growth. And for my part I’ll continue to push to make sure our area continues to benefit from that.