At this year's Budget, the Government have taken huge strides to deliver on their manifesto commitment to genuinely level-up the country and address the north-south divide. This has been a fantastic budget for the people of Cleethorpes with some significant programmes and projects announced, most notably: £75 million to finally implement the Able Marine Energy Park, creating a new offshore wind port and 3,000 jobs; a further £20.9m for the Greater Grimsby Town Deal and, of course, freeport designation for all of the Humber ports.
The Cleethorpes constituency has benefited greatly from the Town Deal programme. We are very fortunate to have had a head start as the first of its kind in the country and a model which has been replicated to great success. It is very positive to see a further 45 new Town Deals across England. We are fortunate to have a very well-established town board, made up of some incredibly talented local people, including its Chair, entrepreneur David Ross. I am grateful to the Government for signing off on a further £20.9m for the Greater Grimsby Town Deal which will be of great help in driving the transformation of our area.
As Chair of the APPG for Freeports, I was delighted to see the Chancellor announce the first eight ports to receive freeport designation. The APPG’s campaign for freeports began in 2018 and as an MP from the Humber, I am naturally delighted that the Humber ports, consisting of Grimsby and Immingham, the largest in the country by tonnage, as well as Hull and Goole will all benefit.
The Government’s pledge to support the Able Marine Energy Park in the Humber is also very welcome. This will see an upgrade to ports infrastructure for the next generation of offshore wind. This plan will deliver a truly world-class facility that will be a step towards the Prime Minister’s ambition to make the UK the “Saudi Arabia of wind”. This is a sector in which the Humber has flourished. It is an essential component of the UK’s energy mix and an area in which we have become world leaders, specifically in the operation and maintenance of offshore wind farms. The latest commitment by the Government will support up to 3,000 high-quality, green jobs. It is vital to note that this would not have been possible, had it not been for the steadfast support of this Government. As Peter Stephenson, Executive Chairman of the Able Group, said “This has been a long, challenging and expensive journey and has not been for the faint-hearted-- make no mistake, without the level of support that we have received from Government, the project would not have proceeded.”
More generally, I am also pleased to see initiatives to make the UK less London-centric. The new Treasury North HQ opening in Darlington and the National Infrastructure Bank with £12bn initial capital which will be based in Leeds are a good start, but I would encourage the Government to go further.
As the premier seaside resort on the East coast, I know the hospitality sector will warmly welcome the extension to the VAT cut to 5% until the end of September, followed by a 12.5% rate for a further six months until 31 March 2022. Also helping the hospitality sector, is the freeze to alcohol duties which I know will be welcome news to patrons across my constituency as will the further freeze in fuel duty.
It is clear that this is a government that understands the people’s priorities. Levelling-up is a serious agenda for change, not just a meaningless slogan. It is backed up with key programmes and considerable sums of money which will radically transform areas like ours. This is a Budget that will confirm to people in seats like Great Grimsby and Scunthorpe, many of whom voted Conservative for the first time in 2019, that their votes were not misplaced. That this is a very different Government to anything they have experienced before. That things will change for the better.