"It was great to be on the frontbench in Parliament last week as the Chancellor delivered a budget to fund world-class public services, back business and help working families with the cost of living. As Secretary of State for Work & Pensions, I’ve been working closely with the Chancellor on key elements of the budget – including reducing the Universal Credit taper rate from 63% to 55% - meaning people will keep more of what they earn. The Taper Rate means that if people work more hours, their support is withdrawn at a steady rate – rather than being taken away all at once, as it was under Jobseeker’s Allowance. The rate is currently 63%, so for every extra £1 someone earns, their Universal Credit is reduced by 63p. From the 1st of December that will be cut to 55p. It might not sound like a lot, but it will make a huge difference. For example, a single mother of two, renting, and working full-time on the National Living Wage will be better off by around £1,200. And a couple, renting a home with their two children, one working full-time, the other working part-time will be better off, every single year, by £1,800. This is a £2bn tax cut for the lowest paid workers in the country. Rewarding work and helping with the cost of living.
Talking of money, the government has now introduced the Nuclear Energy (Financing) Bill, which could be used for the delivery of Sizewell C. Under the existing mechanism, developers have to finance the construction of a nuclear project and only begin receiving revenue when the station starts generating electricity. This has led to the cancellation of recent potential projects.
The new funding model, however, will ensure that new nuclear can be financed by British pension funds and institutional investors, spreading the cost. This will reduce our reliance on overseas developers and lower costs for consumers. This is a tried and tested method. I remember when I was a DEFRA minister, we used it to finance the Thames Tideway Water project. So, it has successfully funded other big infrastructure projects and is crucial to enable us to provide continuous, low carbon electricity.
Finally, I was delighted that the community pub company in Westhall will receive £96,600 from government to save the Racehorse Inn. I backed their bid with a supportive letter to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. The money will help reopen the pub as a community enterprise – ensuring its continued role as a valued village facility. Well done to local resident, Christopher Punt and all the committee for producing such a convincing business plan. Cheers."