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Mike Wood: This Budget is good for communities and families in the West Midlands. On top of the £250 million that the county has already received from the transforming cities fund, it will get another £72 million to boost prosperity and spread wealth across the region by increasing productivity. Families will also have extra money in their pockets at the end of every single month thanks to the introduction, a full year ahead of schedule, of the changes to income tax thresholds and personal allowances that were promised in our manifesto last year.
In the limited time available, I want to focus on our pubs, which was touched on by my hon. Friend the Member for Clapham—[Hon. Members: “Clacton.”] Of course, I mean my hon. Friend Giles Watling. Despite mentioning pubs, I have not had a drink so far today; that was purely an end-of-the-week brain melt. For too long, British beer and British pubs were seen purely as part of the problem, whereas there is now an increasing recognition of their economic input. Pubs contribute £26 billion to our economy every year, and pubs across the country employ nearly 1 million people, almost half of whom are under 25. As I am sure the Chancellor will be all too aware, the sector generates £13 billion in tax.
However, the sector has been under enormous pressure. The years after Gordon Brown introduced the hated beer duty escalator saw an even higher than trend rate of pub closures and a reduction in the number of people drinking beer in pubs, rather than buying it in supermarkets.
Giles Watling Conservative, Clacton
Will my hon. Friend give way?
Mike Wood: I have only a few seconds.
The measures announced on Monday—a freeze in beer duty and a third off business rates—are expected to help up to 19,000 pubs to be between £3,000 and £8,000 a year better off. The British Beer and Pub Association reckons that will safeguard 3,000 jobs in the sector, which in turn means that more people will be earning an income and paying taxes—this will almost certainly cover the costs. This is a good Budget for beer, a good Budget for pubs and a good Budget for Britain.