THE 2013 Budget gained a mixed reaction after the dust settled following a controversial afternoon at Westminster.
Chancellor George Osborne put together a package of measures aimed at “those who want to work and get on”, and cut corporation tax to 20 per cent and cancelled a planned fuel duty rise.
In a rare boost for drinkers, he also cancelled alcohol duty rises and cut the price of beer by a penny a pint.
Despite the positives, Labour leader Ed Miliband attacked it as a “more of the same Budget from a downgraded chancellor”.
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright welcomed the scrapping of a beer duty escalator which he said would help pubs and breweries like Camerons.
But he said the Government had failed to get public debt under control which is slowing down the economic recovery.
Mr Wright said: “By the time of the next General Election all the official figures show that families will be feeling worse off in terms of living standards and the budget has done nothing to address this.
“Because the Chancellor has not focused on growth we are seeing a sharp deterioration in public finances
“He is burying his head in the sand and that is making recovery take longer.
“The knock on effect is people on Hartlepool are suffering.”
Easington MP Grahame Morris said on twitter: “Cuts to public services, tax breaks for those wishing to run them for profit. It’s not just austerity but wealth transfer from poor to rich.”
While acknowledging that although economic recovery was taking longer than expected, Mr Osborne said: “We are, slowly but surely, fixing our country’s economic problems.”
His revised forecast is for the UK’s national debt to rise to 85 per ecnt of GDP and not start coming down until 2017-18 – a year later than previously predicted.
In moves aimed at helping “hard working” people on low incomes, he will introduce a £10,000 income tax threshold a year early, in 2014 – in a move that pleased the Lib Dems, who campaigned on the issue at the last election.
Small businesses will get a £2,000 allowance for firms before paying employer National Insurance contributions, a move Mr Osborne described as “taking tax off jobs”.
Mr Osborne also outlined measures aimed at helping home-buyers including an extension of shared equity schemes.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: “Three years on, what does he say? Exactly what he said three years ago.
“We still need four more years of pain, tax rises and spending cuts. In other words, after all the misery, all the harsh medicine, all the suffering by the British people, three years, no progress, deal broken.”
l It’s your vote: Page 8