Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Chancellor Delivers Last Budget Before Election

By Sunil Patel

The last budget ahead of this summer’s general election hit cider drinkers in the pocket, whilst also delivering help for struggling first-time buyers to get onto the property ladder.

The good news for prospective homeowners came in stamp duty being suspended for up to two years on properties up to the value of £250,000.

However, the duty on the popular West Country ale rose by ten percent from midnight on Sunday to bring it in line with other types of alcohol, which also rose by two per cent.

The stamp duty reduction will be paid for by an increase of up to five percent on charges on properties worth over a £1 million from April 2011.

Alistair Darling confirmed last week in his speech to the House of Commons that public spending would continue to rise in 2010-11 if Labour were re-elected, to help ‘lock in the recovery’.

There was some small relief for motorists as the 3p fuel duty initially due to go up all in one go next month will now be staggered to between April and January 2011 instead.

The chancellor delivered a £2.5 billion boost to small businesses, including a one-year business rate cut from October, which the government claims will help 100,000 companies.

He said the government would also extend the winter fuel allowance for a further year to help support the thousands of older people affected by fuel poverty.

Mr Darling also revised down by £11 billion the level of government borrowing for 2010 from £178 billion to £167 billion.

Predicted economic growth for this year was set at between 1 and 1.25 percent, although the economic growth forecast for 2011 was lowered from 3.5 per cent to between 3 and 3.5 percent.

However, some city analysts have claimed Darling’s predictions for growth of UK economy for this year to be vastly over-optimistic.

Reacting to the budget speech, the conservative party leader David Cameron said Labour had stolen their ideas on stamp duty and higher tax for strong ciders.

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg described the budget as a 'footnote to 13 years of Labour failure'.

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