Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Liveblog: Budget 2010

Welcome to Creeting St Peter, where 'Liberal Bureaucracy' is warming up with a nice cup of tea and a small handful of fruit sherbets for the speech to come.

12:33 - Alistair rises to his feet. It's an interesting tie, purple with blue blotches, and a nice piece of colour coordination with Harriet to his right (purple jacket) and Gordon to his left (purple tie).

12:35 - First announcement - £2.5 billion package for small businesses. Details to come but will shore up support in the service and light industrial sectors.

12:37 - Time to talk about how well we're doing relative to selected others.

12:39 - Bank recovery means that Government will be able to sell its shareholdings and recoup all of the money invested in them. £8 billion has already been recovered from the banks from fees and charges. The bonus tax has already raised £2 billion(somewhat more than expected, I note).

12:42 - Alistair isn't just bashing the banks though, as he needs them to help balance the books. He'll also need them to ensure that everyone has access to a basic bank account (is it me, but is the right to a bank account more important than, say, the right to privacy?).

12:45 - More comparisons designed to make Alistair look good, with unemployment figures contrasted favourably with those in the Eurozone.

12:48 - Another goodie for the young, with a guarantee of employment for the under-24's

12:49 - Mortgage interest support maintained at the higher level for another six months. And now time for stamp duty... the exemption limit for stamp duty for first time buyers will be doubled to £250,000 for two years. Stamp duty will be raised to 5% for residential properties worth more than £1 million (how many Tory MP's will be upset by that, I wonder?).

12:51 - Savers will be pleased to see the index-linking of ISA investment ceilings...

12:52 - 2010 growth prediction - 1-1.5%, 2011 growth prediction reduced slightly to 3-3.5%.

12:54 - Fuel duty rise will be phased in, with an extra penny in April, another in October, and the last tranche in January 2011.

12:56 - Budget deficit was predicted to be £178 billion for 2010, but with income and corporation tax reciepts holding up well, the new prediction is for borrowing of £167 billion in 2009/10, £131 billion for 2010/11, £110 billion in 2011/12, £89 billion in 2012/13 and £74 billion in 2013/14. As a proportion of GDP, those figures represent 11.1%, 8.5%, 6.8%, 5.2% and 4%. The structural deficit will be reduced to 2% by 2013/14 (if he's right, this will be pretty impressive...).

13:03 - Inheritance tax thresholds to be frozen for four years (how long ago does 2007 seem now?).

13:04 - Cider duty up by 10% above inflation (that's Herefordshire lost for ever), tobacco duty up by a penny, beer, wine and spirits by 2p.

13:06 - Public sector payroll increases held to 1% for the next two years, £20 billion worth of savings and efficiencies already found. Another £11 billion to be announced later today. The Civil Service will relocate one-third to its staff in London away from the capital within five years.

13:11 - All a bit dull...

13:13 - 15% of central government contracts will go to small companies.

13:15 - Business rates to be cut for one year from October, time to pay arrangements will be extended throughout the next Parliament. The annual investment allowance will be doubled to £100,000. The Entrepreneur's Relief will be increased too.

13:18 - More money for roads, especially motorways (another bribe for motorists, I see...).

13:19 - But there will be a new green investment bank, with £2 billion to play with, and investment in manufacture of wind turbines.

13:21 - Help to be given to the video games industry (as recommended by the Lords Select Committee on Communications).

13:24 - £270 million modernisation fund for universities in 2010/11 to allow the creation of new facilities to support additional university places.

13:26 - Time to screw the rich... tax agreement signed with Liechtenstein will bring in £1 billion in additional revenue. Three new agreements will be concluded with Dominica, Grenada and... Belize! These deals will be signed within days.

13:28 - A joke from Alistair... "rather faster than the ten years taken by the Conservative Party to exchange information with Lord Ashcroft".

13:29 - Child tax credits to go up by £4 per week by 2011/12.

13:31 - Time to sit down. A pat on the shoulder from Gordon, and a job well done, if only from the perspective of politics.

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