Budget could herald better times ahead

AS USUAL on such occasions the House of Commons was packed for Chancellor Philip Hammond's Budget speech which I believe could herald better prospects ahead for southern Scotland.

There was a positive buzz on the Government benches with steps being taken to end austerity against the backdrop of better than predicted economic analysis. 

Having previously met the Chancellor along with my Scottish Conservative MP colleagues I was delighted that he took on board many of the points we raised.

One highlight was that nearly £1 billion extra will come to Scotland in the next financial year through the Barnett Formula, which includes £550 million earmarked for health although final spending priorities will be set by the SNP Scottish Government.

Over five years an extra £2 billion of health funding will be allocated to Scotland.

The Chancellor referenced the Borderlands Growth Deal, which, along with the Ayrshire Growth Deal, should provide a big economic boost to the area.  

I welcome the decision to put more money in the pockets of workers through raising personal tax-free allowances across the UK. 

Also positive was substantial extra investment in additional protection for claimants during the rolling transfer programme into the more effective and simpler Universal Credit benefits system.

Many in Upper Nithsdale and Ayrshire will welcome news that there will be no extra tax at filling stations with fuel duty frozen for the ninth year in succession. 

This was the positive Budget needed to help take us forward confidently into an historic new era for our region, Scotland and all of the UK.