Good news with Air Passenger Duty changes

Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column
Crawley MP Henry Smith's latest column

After meetings on Wednesday morning here in Crawley, I made my way to the House of Commons to hear the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

The partial abolition of Air Passenger Duty had been rumoured in the news, but following my extensive campaigning on this issue, I wasn’t taking anything for granted.

I was therefore delighted to hear the Chancellor announce that APD will be abolished on economy flights for under 12s from next May, and for under 16s from the following March.

Already Gatwick based airlines like Virgin Atlantic and EasyJet have promised to pass on the savings.

I am also pleased that in the interests in transparency, airlines will be required to list charges separately from taxes on tickets.

This is good news for hard-working Crawley families deserving a break and the many travel companies in our town.

The reforms to stamp duty will cut taxes for the overwhelming majority of people trying to buy a house in our town. It is being reformed, so that 98 per cent of those who have previously paid it will now pay less tax when buying a home.

The buyer of the average family home (worth £275,000) will pay £4,500 less; a tax cut of £800 million a year.

This, as well as the announced additional rise in the Personal Allowance next year, and changes to the ISA rules, support people who want to work hard and save.

Last weekend saw Small Business Saturday, and I was pleased that the £1,000 discount for shops and cafes on the high street will increase to £1,500. The research and development tax credit for small and medium enterprises is also going up.

The Kent, Surrey and Sussex Air Ambulance will also benefit, with an award of £1.5 million from the Government. The Chancellor has also ensured that air ambulance charity expenditure will be exempt from VAT.

It was reassuring to see the announcement for yet another cut in income tax. The tax-free Personal Allowance will now increase to £10,600 in April 2015; this will see further income tax reductions for over 43,000 Crawley households.

David Cameron wants this reduced further over the course of the next parliament, to increase the tax-free Personal Allowance to £12,500.

While unemployment in Crawley has fallen by more than half since 2010, and youth unemployment here is down by a third in the last year alone, I know that there is still more to do.