On the 8th of March 2021, I delivered my speech in a debate on the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Budget. I sought to highlight the numerous concerns brought before me regarding the Budget by constituents and organisations, in particular those pertaining to support for businesses in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and across Scotland.
You can read my speech below and listen to it on the Parliament TV website.
“I welcome some of the measures that the Chancellor has brought forward in the Budget. I am delighted that he listened to the concerns of the Showmen’s Guild in my constituency and across the UK by identifying that sector as having exceptional reasons to maintain entitlement to use red diesel beyond April 2022.
However, a sector that feels let down by this year’s Budget is the one represented by the Federation of Wholesale Distributors, having been excluded from business rates relief while hospitality, retail and leisure have all been included since the beginning of the policy. I urge the Chancellor to consider the merits of including this long-struggling sector in his plans for an extension of the business rates holiday. If the wholesale sector continues to suffer the stress it has under this pandemic, with minimal Government support, the disastrous knock-on effects on the hospitality and retail sectors will be dramatic and unparalleled.
It is vital to acknowledge the lack of clarity given to another essential sector, many of whose employees live in my constituency: the aviation sector. As John Holland-Kaye, CEO of Heathrow airport, recently noted,
“The Chancellor talks about protecting jobs and livelihoods, fixing the public finances and laying the foundations for the future economy, and yet he continues to ignore the UK’s aviation sector.”
The extension of the airport and ground operations support scheme for a further six months is welcome, but the failure to guarantee a full business rates holiday for airports across the UK will have dramatic repercussions for the aviation industry.
UK airports have had high fixed costs throughout this period to keep their operations running 24/7. The impact on the sector has been unprecedented, with passenger volumes down significantly and virtually no revenue for the past year. The industry is at a standstill. It is imperative that a clear road map out of the crisis is provided by Government, so that the industry has time to prepare, plan and open up the market safely. That cannot be done overnight. As Robert Sinclair, CEO of London City airport, recently said, this is not just an industry in its own right; it underpins the rest of the UK economy and is an enabler of trade, tourism, import, export, retail and hospitality, so getting aviation open sooner rather than later will aid recovery.
I share the Chancellor’s expressed belief that we must give every business an opportunity to grow, innovate and succeed in the post-pandemic world and play their part in the economic recovery, but the reality is that this Budget continues to fail many businesses in my constituency, in Scotland and across the other nations of the UK. I hope that the Chancellor is listening and will address these valid concerns.”