Later today, the Chancellor will announce the Autumn Statement. During this, he will update us on the state of the economy and announce tax and spending decisions.
Last week, colleagues from across Sussex met with the Chancellor to discuss his upcoming budget. I made clear the concerns and priorities of residents here in Worthing and Arun as well as those shared across Sussex.
In close communication with Citizens Advice Arun & Chichester, I am acutely aware of the cost-of-living pressures on certain members of the community in Arun and Worthing. Responding to their concerns as well as the expert advice of Citizens Advice, I urged the Chancellor of the Exchequer to confirm benefits will be uprated in April in line with inflation when he delivers his Autumn Statement.
Another important concern I discussed with the Chancellor was that of alcohol duty. The rise in alcohol excise duty implemented in August was the steepest hike in the tax for almost 50 years.
August's rise was already severe. Any further rise would have grave consequences for our local vineyards and wine producers, as signalled by representatives at Majestic Wine, as well as spirit companies such as Slake Spirits and Worthing Gin.
Finally, responding to priorities and pressures locally, I joined with several colleagues in writing to the Chancellor to urge for significant funding to halt the rising crisis in special needs education provision.
Without substantial extra funding and bold policy changes, the situation will only deteriorate further. Demand and expectation around SEND support are far outweighing the funding and capacity available.
I await the Chancellor's statement and will analyse in full what is announced and the benefits they will bring to communities here in Worthing and Arun.