On forming the Coalition Government in 2010, the Liberal Democrats’ top priority was to tackle the financial crisis as a prelude to creating a stronger economy and a fairer society.
As part of our work towards this, we want to make the tax system fairer to ensure the lowest paid pay less tax while those on high incomes pay their fair share. I am glad to say we are a step closer to achieving this as we introduced a further cut for basic rate taxpayers this week.
On 6 April, the income tax threshold was raised to £9,440 – the largest rise in the personal allowance ever – giving 47,500 Borders a tax cut for the third year in a row. This will bring the total income tax cut since Labour’s time in government to £600 and means that 5,190 Borderers have been lifted out of income yax altogether since 2010.
This is good news for local people and, with the government’s work to crack down on tax avoidance and ensure the wealthy pay their share, means that we are making the UK tax system fairer than ever.
Newcastleton femto trial
As the Government works to deliver a fairer society, we are also committed to strengthening the economy by supporting businesses and improving infrastructure.
I know that locally, poor broadband and mobile phone services are a huge frustration, for businesses and individuals, and when improved, could provide a real boost to our economy.
As local MP, these are issues I have been campaigning on for many years and I welcome the UK government’s commitment to roll out a better service for both over the next few years.
The government has committed £100.8 million for broadband in Scotland and £150 million for mobile infrastructure across the UK.
There will still, however, be communities which don’t benefit from these improvements and other options will have to be looked at to deliver a better service to these areas.
For mobile phone signal, one of these options is femto and I was very pleased to take part in the launch of a trial of the technology in Newcastleton last Friday. I heard about femto a few years ago through Vodafone and I recommended several locations in the Borders for a trial they were hoping to hold.
It was great to hear that Newcastleton was selected for the pilot and this means that Vodafone customers in the village will now receive decent coverage. This is only a small step towards better mobile phone signal for the area but if the trial is successful, more Borders communities could benefit in the future.