LAST week, I was in the House of Commons listening to the Chancellor deliver the autumn statement which has seen the government set out a series of economic changes to try and drive growth in our economy.

The Prime Minister has been clear that he wants to make difficult longer-term decisions that really seek to address the challenges facing our country.

There are over 150 separate measures intended to drive growth and benefit working people, and it was good to note that a number of representations I made on behalf of constituents in Taunton Deane were heeded.

Because of steps this Government has made, inflation has halved, debt is on track to fall and the economy has recovered quicker than anticipated.

This has meant the Chancellor was able to announce the largest package of tax cuts since the 1980s.

27 million people will have a tax cut of £450 as National Insurance contributions will be reduced.

The National Living Wage (NLW) will be increased by 9.8 per cent resulting in an increase of over £1,800 for a full-time worker on the NLW.

Benefits and Local Housing Allowance rates will be increased supporting the most vulnerable and pensions will be boosted by 8.5 per cent in line with the Triple Lock.

In a boost to business, they will now be able to offset investments against their tax bills, encouraging growth and innovation.

The business rates multiplier has also been frozen for the fourth consecutive year, saving an average shop £1,650 and the Retail, Hospitality, and Leisure relief has also been extended meaning many of our valued businesses locally will benefit from more financial support, protecting our high streets and town centres.

Given the challenges we face locally to unlock housebuilding the Chancellor’s announcement of a £110 million investment for local planning authorities affected by ‘nutrient neutrality’ rules was welcome. (Full details of the Autumn Statement can be found on my website.)

Demonstrating the Government’s commitment to the region, I am thrilled that we have just been awarded nearly £20 million to restore and save the nationally important heritage site of Toneworks in Wellington.

This was at the centre of Wellington’s cloth industry and the building housed the textiles dying, washing, and drying processes for cloth woven at the nearby Tonedale Mill run by the famous Fox Brothers & Co.

Coming hot on the heels of the Wellington Rail station announcement; and my local campaign to complete the restoration of the Wellington Monument, this will be another huge boost to the town, which I’ve been so pleased to have worked to facilitate.

And more exciting news, this time for Taunton, local business entrepreneur and car enthusiast Patrick Hawkins unveiled his ambitious project to bring the County Classics Motor Museum to the town.

I was delighted to be amongst the huge crowd that filled the town centre and to stand alongside TV personality Richard Hammond at the official opening.

This enterprising endeavour will help to make Taunton a destination which will have a significant impact on the local economy. Do visit.

Finally, warm congratulations to Bridgwater & Taunton College on being awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Education, it is the first college in the country to deliver Nursing Degrees and has become a pioneering force in helping to address workforce challenges in Somerset.

I very much look forward to visiting again and continuing to work with the trailblazing college.

As ever, please do get in touch if I can be of any assistance to you by contacting me by emailing