In her weekly column for Ely News, Lucy Frazer, MP for South East Cambridgeshire, talks about the Spring Budget and it affects us.
Economists predict that two thirds of children starting school today will be in jobs that do not yet exist. That startling statistic means we need to think extremely carefully about how we train the people who are our future. That training must not only encompass the ability to read, write and calculate or include the capacity for thought, judgment and responsibility but it must also incorporate the practical technical training needed to support our local businesses as they continue to evolve.
So the Chancellor's Spring Budget last week, in which he announced measures to increase opportunities for young people, to improve our productivity and build up the next generation with the right skills is welcome.
The Chancellor announced a £500 million investment in technical education and the streamlining of qualifications - ’T’ levels (technical training for students aged 16-19 in sectors including construction and engineering) to be put on a par with academic qualifications. This, coupled with announcements to support collaborations between business and the UK's science base, including electric vehicles and developing cutting edge artificial intelligence, will be of great benefit to our region which is at heart of the UK's technology industry.
As a vociferous campaigner for fairer funding I am always pleased to see investment in our schools and the budget also provides a further £216 million for school maintenance.
But it was not just skills and schools but also social care which got a boost.
Having visited Addenbrooke's last month and discussed social care, amongst other things, with the Interim Chair, Mike Moore, I am keenly aware, as are so many of us, of the need for further funds for social care. The Chancellor's commitment of £2 billion more for social care is much needed. Our area, like many areas, has a growing elderly population and it is important to ensure that as many people are cared for in the community, rather than in hospital, wherever possible. This funding will help in the effort to ease the burden on hospitals like Addenbrooke's.
While highlighting those aspects of the Budget that will have the most positive impact on our region, I should also mention the relief identified by the Chancellor for small businesses who may suffer a significant increase in business rates.
I hope that all these measures support our thriving local economy and bring further prosperity to our region.