Don Foster MP*

“Budget seeks to save NHS, but damn Public Transport,” Foster

Bath MP Don Foster has welcomed as a ‘breakthrough’ the Government’s decision to back Liberal Democrat election policy and raise tax to save the NHS.

Main ImageDon Foster MP said:
“For the past decade, I’ve been campaigning for increased investment to save public services. I’ve never avoided campaigning for a necessary, fair tax rise - what I have desperately wanted to avoid was watching the steady decline of the NHS, and the increasing pressure that’s placed on resources at the RUH and BRI.
“This extra spending comes five years too late for many patients in Bath. But I’m sure most people will welcome this investment, provided they can see their money will get results. There are three immediate ways to treat more patients: end bed-blocking; start paying health service professionals enough to stop them leaving the service; and start training the new doctors and nurses we need to boost the NHS for the 21st century.
“Until today, we spent 30% less per person on our health care than France, and an incredible 63% less than Germany. Today’s budget proves that Gordon Brown’s spending plan for the NHS was more miserly than prudent. If he had taken the necessary preventative measures, the road to recovery would have been far shorter.”
On the issues of public transport investment and fuel tax, Don Foster said:
“It is clear that the pleas of Britain’s public transport users have fallen on deaf ears.
“Stephen Byers has made such modest gains from the Budget that over the next four days of Budget debates, he hasn’t even been given a slot to speak on it.
“Despite the crisis on buses and trains, the amount of government investment in transport has fallen under Labour, particularly in the railways. As a result passenger delays are up 70%, cancellations are up 45% and nearly 40% of trains are over-crowded. Today’s Budget does nothing to reverse these trends.
“Today’s announcement that fuel duty is to be frozen merely honours the Chancellor’s Pre-Budget Statement commitment. He should have gone further to instil public confidence and declared a freeze, in real terms, for the lifetime of this Parliament.”
However, Don Foster also welcomed the Government’s decision to include rate relief for amateur sports clubs, and the reductions in beer duty. He said:

“These two changes will also be important to people in Bath.
“The issue of rate relief for amateur sports clubs is one that I’ve been a strong campaigner on. A number of Bath’s clubs requested my support to help save them from having to pay rates on their club facilities out of scarce club funds.
“5 months ago, the Government consulted 2,500 clubs and they unanimously rejected the idea that they become charities. And 95% of clubs stated last month that they opposed the Government’s proposals to change them into charities.
“This is a victory for these amateur clubs, and it’s very satisfying that the Government has seen sense and has finally chosen to adopt the sound recommendations the Inland Revenue gave them before the general election.

“More good news is that there will be a reduction in beer duty - the industry is under severe pressure from cross-Channel smuggling and this will enable British brewers to remain competitive.

“I’m also particularly pleased to see that the Chancellor has announced duty relief for small brewers. This should be a big help to our local breweries, such as Abbey Ales and the Hook Norton Brewery. It will affect 90% of brewers, but this works out at probably less than 2% of beer production.

“I hope that this will enable our specialist small brewers to continue producing their amber nectars, ready for the next Bath Beer Festival, and way beyond.”


This article published: 18/09/2023

Published by Bath Liberal Democrats, 31 James St West, Bath, BA1 2BT. Printed and hosted by JPC Infonet, 2 St Georges Works, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, BA14 8AA. Your Privacy._blank


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