THE Chancellor George Osborne made his final pitch to voters with a handout to savers and first time buyers as he declared Britain could finally “walk tall again” after the years of austerity.
In his final Budget before the general election, the Chancellor announced a new personal allowance which would mean 95 per cent of all savers would pay no tax on their savings.
And he said that he was creating a new help-to-buy ISA which would see the Government add £50 to every £200 first-time buyers put away towards a deposit.
He confirmed tax cuts via a rise in personal allowances, cut beer, cider and spirit duties, and again scrapped the fuel duty rise.
And the Chancellor said “the sun is starting to shine” as he said the period of austerity would end a year earlier than forecast.
But Labour leader Ed Miliband, responding to the Budget speech, said there had never been such a large gap between the Chancellor’s rhetoric and the reality of people’s lives.
He condemned Mr Osborne for failing to mention investment in the NHS or public services.
And he told MPs: “This is a Budget people won’t believe from a Government that is not on their side - because of their record, because of their instinct, because of their plans for the future.”
But the Chancellor claimed the Government’s economic strategy was paying off.
To Tory cheers he announced that he would meet his promise made in 2010 that debt would be falling as share of national income by the end of the parliament.
He said that a combination of lower welfare bills, falling interest rates, and further sales for the bailed out banks meant borrowing was set to fall faster than forecast.
“The hard work and sacrifice of the British people has paid off. The original debt target I set out in my first Budget has been met,” he said.
He said the personal tax-free allowance will go up to £10,800 next year, rising to £11,000 the year after.
And he said that, for the first time in seven years, the higher rate tax threshold would go up by more than inflation, rising from £42,385 this year to £43,300 by 2017-18.
George Hardey, associate & head of tax, at Hartlepool-based accountants and business advisers Waltons Clark Whitehill, said: “A significant barrier to first-time buyers getting that all important first step on the housing ladder has been saving for a deposit. The “Help to Buy” ISA for first-time buyers will be welcome news.
“Business will be waiting eagerly to find out what transpires from the review of the Annual Investment Allowance in the wake of the Government deciding to alter plans to reduce it from a generous half a million pounds to £25,000.”