Helping people get back to work and saving their homes from repossession were the key themes from today's budget from Chancellor Alistair Darling.
He said he was confident the UK was well placed to fight against the shocks which have hit the global economy. He admitted that the government failure to act earlier had turned a downturn into a depression. "We will not repeat those mistakes," he said.
He was more upbeat than most experts about the future growth of the economy, predicting growth of 3.5% by 2011.He said: "I expect the economy to start growing at the end of the year." However, he predicted the economy would shrink by 3.5% this year.
Darling introduced a series of measures to help people who have lost their jobs. There will be an increase in statutory redundancy pay from £350 to £380 per week. Everyone under 25 who has been out of work for 12 months will be offered a job or training with a salary or funding.
He also pledged support for struggling companies. Travel companies who are loss-making will be able to claim back taxes paid over the last three years to help cancel out their losses.
There was a heavy focus on green measures. A total of £525 million will be invested in renewable energy and Darling pledged to cut carbon emissions 34% by 2020.
Measures in the Budget:
- An additional 1.7 billion funding to support the Job Centre plus network which helps people back into employment
- Stamp duty "holiday" on homes below £175,000 to be extended until the end of the year
- Extend the option for business to defer tax bills
- £500m kick start building on housing projects which have been stalled
- Restrict pensions relief to those earning over 150,000 a year
- People earning over £150,000 will have their income tax increased from 45% to 50% from April next year
- Fuel duty to rise by 2p a litre from September
- Alcohol duties will increase by 2% at midnight tonight
- Cigarette duty to increase by 2% at 6pm tonight
- Child tax credit to rise by £20 by 2010
Read a transcript of the Budget at hmtreasury.gov.uk.
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Based on a search for 'Darling' 'Budget' and 'Travel'
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Homepage image: Jamie Wiseman / Daily Mail / Rex Features
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