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The Budget: As it happens

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Nick Robinson | 12:46 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

The politics of the Budget is already clear.

Government is a "force for good" and "should not stand aside'" the chancellor says.

He is unveiling a $2.5bn one-off "growth package" and what he calls help for those who need it - the stamp duty cut for first time buyers and, I predict, an increase in the winter fuel allowance too.

All of which he will, no doubt, claim would have to be scrapped by the Tories who - he will suggest - are ideologically committee to cutting back the size of government now.

Update 12:59: The chancellor has confirmed that he has pinched George Osborne's proposal to scrap stamp duty for first time buyers but there was a sting in the tail for the Tories.

He says he'll pay for it by increasing the cost of moving for the rich by increasing stamp duty on houses worth over a million. No doubt someone in the Labour Party will soon be calling it the Notting Hill tax.

He had to say something about how he's paying for it since in October 2007 the chancellor condemned the "irresponsible promises on tax" the Tories made when they first proposed it.

Update 13:05: Next in the chancellor's list of election dividing lines is a promise of money for social care paid - as yet unspecified - by increasing inheritance tax (by freezing thresholds for four years).

The theme is clear - help for the many versus help for the few.

Update 13:08: The biggest rabbit the chancellor has pulled from his Budget hat is lower than expected borrowing next year. It's forecast to be £13bn less than predicted in the pre-Budget report. His message to the country is "don't worry we're sorting out the deficit".

Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Oh Lord, make me good. But not yet.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 2.

    'Government is a "force for good"'

    Not this government. Labour couldn't have done more harm to British industry if they'd tried.

  • Comment number 3.

    Thank you for your opening gambit Mr Robinson - I sincerely hope that you will try and keep your comments objective rather than trying to live up the BBC mandate by trying to put a positive spin on government obfuscation and spin. Please keep your comments to the point and avoid spinning in favour or Brown and his dishonest cronies.

    This is not the time for a Budget, its time for an election and time for change be it Liberal or Conservative - but definitely not dishonest and corrupt Labour!

  • Comment number 4.

    'would have to be scrapped by the Tories'

    Why ? Aren't there plenty of other areas where the Tories could make savings ?

    In any case, failure to deal with the deficit will harm the recovery and harm the public services that rely on that recovery. This is why business is behind the Tory strategy of cutting the deficit early rather than delaying the pain until later.

  • Comment number 5.

    'The theme is clear -...'

    No, the theme is - to hell what's in the country's long term interest, let's just get Gordon re-elected.

  • Comment number 6.

    Can't wait to wipe that sickly smile off the face of Brown when the election comes.

  • Comment number 7.

    Figured you'd be taking a partisan line.

    might as well head over and join the dollybots at LabourLost.

  • Comment number 8.

    Totally awesome response from Cameron.

    He's in.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 9.

    Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.

    -------------

    Do please clarify for us that the Labour government are not now making policy solely with the intention of punishing one person they happen not to like. Sounds a bit petulant and unworthy.

    Are we to gather that the recent spat of predicting one horrible amount of borrowing first, then later changing the estimate to a slightly less horrible one is a deliberate tactic? Sort of, "look how much better we're doing than expected, we told you we were going to have to cut off all of your fingers, but are going to let you keep a few milimeters of your pinky".

    Second time it is happened recently.

  • Comment number 10.

    "All of which he will, no doubt, claim would have to be scrapped by the Tories"

    Just for a change could this nasty, self-serving bunch actually bring in policy for the good of the country, rather than for their own electioneering.

    New Labour have no shame.

  • Comment number 11.

    Terrible budget, no plan to tackle the deficit. Let's have an election called so we can get in a Government prepared to sort out the ruined economy.

  • Comment number 12.

    Inspirational response from DC to this clapped out government.

    Looks like the BBC is having difficulty dissembling it.

    Call an election

  • Comment number 13.

    Wow - just saw Cameron's response. Fire and Passion - and some straight talking on where we are. Makes Darling's proposals look what they are - tinkering around the edges while the country burns.

    As for all the 'savings' Darling promised - they are merely nothing more than spending a bit less rather than proper savings (like saying I should buy a new plasma TV which has a price reduction of £100 and saying I have saved £100 - the fact that I can't afford nor need a plasma TV is ignored).

    Roll on the election.

  • Comment number 14.

    ' His message to the country is "don't worry we're sorting out the deficit".'

    and if you believe that you'll believe that Alistair Darling will still be chancellor this time next year.

  • Comment number 15.

    update 13:30 , is this going to be like IR35 and complete and utter
    dissastor , it looked good at the time but actually did more harm than good, why not have tax agreements where the labour no-doms are then ?

    maybe ashcroft will move to one of these countries then.

    more spiteful rules from a spiteful governement

  • Comment number 16.

    Think the theme is quite clear "buying votes"

  • Comment number 17.

    Ah and theres the Ashcroft stab as well.

    Predictable. Utterly predictable.

  • Comment number 18.

    The usual smoke and mirrors from Bodger and Badger, Cameron is right when he says there is no question to which the answer is five more years of Labour.

    I had a feeling you'd include the Ashcroft nonsense in your blog, I wonder why?

  • Comment number 19.

    ' Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.'

    Not half as delighted as you Nick, that's another excuse you've got to churn out a raft of blogs about Lord A.

  • Comment number 20.

    I don't believe a single word Alistair Darling says.

  • Comment number 21.

    The government is providing funds for business because the bailed out banks will not. Reclaim the funds provided, assume public ownership of one and let the interest gained from loans be applied to the national debt. the present position of the banks is that governments should not be in the banking business and that is like saying that honest businesses detract from dishonest businesses. Enough of the Devine Right of bankers. Put them in their place and create some regulations that will prevent future robberies of the public treasury and severe punishments for violations. I see no real difference between the mafia and the bankers, except the police arrest the mafia.

  • Comment number 22.

    Good budget politically & economically. Calm & rational.

    Particularly when compared with the Cameron response - he was simply shrill & simply read a prepared statement. No reality, no judgement & no policies. Bankrupt really!





  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    SHOCKING....Darling should have stuck to his guns,hes not doing a bad job but has once again allowed himself to be a mouth piece for Brown !!!
    Such a shame..............

  • Comment number 25.

    Not a word addressing the calamitous decision by Gordon Brown in his last budget as Chancellor in 2008 to abolish the 10% rate of income tax. This has adversely affected over three million people; mostly in work and mostly young and part time employees earning £18,000 and less. One wonders what Frank Field will have to say about this onission.

  • Comment number 26.

    "Over the past year, through the money-printing programme delicately termed “quantitative easing”, Britain has already expanded its monetary base threefold — an increase that took 50 years and two world wars to bring about in the first half of the last century."

    That quote is from a recent article by Dominic Lawson .. you can read the whole piece here ...

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/dominic_lawson/article7069803.ece

    ... and that article, I would respectfully suggest, is better value for your precious time than todays slight re-arrangement of fiscal deckchairs from Mr. Darling.

  • Comment number 27.

    The sound of a delusional man patting himself on the back!

    Given that Labour will probably be out of office in a few weeks, this was never going to be a real budget.

    However, Labour has used this opportunity to deliver a lengthy Party Political Broadcast in all but name, bypassing the usual rules granting equivalent airtime to the opposition.

    On Radio 4, Cameron's response was cut short and Clegg's response reduced to a soundbite.

    I think the broadcasting 'rules' need to be looked at again because the current arrangements for Budget reporting simply gives this dissembling government an unfettered opportunity to peddle their own party propaganda.

  • Comment number 28.

    As far as I'm concerned this government has just put the last nail in its coffin in the south west. Raising cider by 10%?! Outrageous.

  • Comment number 29.

    Damn thunderbird is all I have to say on it.

  • Comment number 30.

    'he will suggest - are ideologically committee to cutting back the size of government now'

    It's not ideological, it's practical. The longer we delay dealing with the deficit, the greater the pain we'll all suffer.

  • Comment number 31.

    Lies Lies and more lies.A new duty on refining fuel on 1st april will add 2.4p per litre on top of the 1p (all plus vat of course)

  • Comment number 32.

    Beware the increases, OK saying 1% on this, 2% on that, a lot better than coming out with the true values in Stirling makes it sound cheaper....

    ...would this mean a jump in 1% or 2% every time inflation rose, what about if inflation falls?

    Don't care who wins the election but please not these lot, novices, bring em' on.

    Have you noted how sullen and gloomy they all look even at PMQs?

  • Comment number 33.

    What a load of rubbish and waste of everyones time and effort.

    This is just typical Labout posturing and electioneering

    Forgive me but can anyone tell me apart from the immediate Tax Rises on the usual Ciggies Booze and Fuel how much will actually reach the legislature ?

    Answer NONE

    So why bother ?

    Just get Captain Dither to call an Election

  • Comment number 34.

    Nick, you say "The theme is clear - help for the many versus help for the few"

    This wild claim needs to be challenged, not simply repeated as fact.

    With the country's economy going down the plughole with ever increasing debt, the long term prospects are disastrous for all sections of the community. Although this type of meaningless hyperbole may get a few cheers from Labour's backbenchers, when the economy is in deep doodoo, it is always the less well off that suffer the most.

    Labour's dysfunctional spending plans will do nothing to help the most vulnerable. Things can only get worse while they remain in power.

  • Comment number 35.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 36.

    How can that be called a budget? Nothing more than an election speech.

    If we are to believe Darling the British economy will just sail into the future without any input from him.
    It's not a light touch on the tiller, Labour is rudderless.

    Let's wait until Saturday for the full analysis of this election manifesto. After all GoBro hid his tax on pensions in his first budget.

  • Comment number 37.

    Wow, that's a lot of people who don't like the government. I would have liked to see alteration of the inheritence tax laws to lengthen the collection process but lower the allowances, particularly on non-primary residence properties and cash.
    I might also have expected an increase in income tax for higher rate tax (£37K-£150K). I will soon fall within this bracket and I can afford to pay more tax, not a lot more you understand but still... and I have kids.
    Apart from that it seems like a reasonable budget. Not entirely sure what they've got against cider though...

  • Comment number 38.

    Just read more comments...
    Seriously chaps, just because he isn't calling for GB to be burned at the stake doesn't mean he's biased. It seemed like a balanced report to me, I'm not clear which bits you all felt were sugar coated apart from those you misquoted.

  • Comment number 39.

    I didn't hear anything about an increase in the state pension. The government sets a figure of approx £128 that a person can live on. Do they live in the real world or are they keeping all the spare cash for their own salaries and expenses?

  • Comment number 40.

    none of this makes any difference as the general public no longer trust anything any politicians say anymore, when they start actually doing what they say then we may start trusting our government which is there to serve us!!
    We love our country and just want to feel safe and cared for by our own country! If the health service works and we can feel safe on the streets and in our own homes, i'm sure we don't mind paying a bit extra!

    None of this money talk makes any real difference when everyone says one thing and does something completely different!!

  • Comment number 41.

    Election please, a non budget is no help to anyone!

  • Comment number 42.

    Nick - Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.

    -----------------------------------------------------------------------

    ..& at the same time letting Labour Non Dom's off the hook I dare say.
    This one really does scream of last ditch desparation.
    Still, I did think it a little strange that a day could go by without Ashcroft getting some sort of mention.

    50% tax rate still on the cards as well - a failed policy if ever I saw one because those who earn over 150K already know how to jump through the loop holes left by Brown. Watch this threshold drop in the coming years when future Chancellors realise that it's just not bringing in the bacon.

    Thanks’ for the 10% on Somerset's finest Badger - another Tory idea out of the waste bin me thinks. Best drown my sorrows before Sunday - cheers.

  • Comment number 43.

    This is a revenge Budget for London for voting for Boris.Remove 15000 civil servants from London and then tax all houses changing hands for over £1000000,of course with prices in any Capital City being higher tyhan elsewhere.

  • Comment number 44.

    I do enjoy reading these comments. over the past week I've been reading some astounding stories from the other side of the pond justifying the Right's position to deny health care to the poor.

    Reading the responses here, it is exactly the same. As someone else pointed out the 50% tax rate isn't going to make a £100K+ earner start shopping at Aldi - get a reality check, folks!

  • Comment number 45.

    The unite union has welcomed the budget !!!

    Amazing that one isn't it ???

  • Comment number 46.

    Nick

    so the Government are playing political point scoring games against the Tories instead of acting in the countries best interest?

    Pilot picks fight with copilot has plane is about to crash.

  • Comment number 47.

    "Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.'"

    Then if the attempt was to 'target' Ashcroft, it singularly missed the target.

    These tax agreements only impact on domiciled Brits who are hiding money off shore. I'm not sure if you remember Nick, but Lord A is non-dom. That was the whole point.

  • Comment number 48.

    @31 add that to the 2.5% from January when they did not reduce the increase they added because they cut VAT. Brown has taught the grey haired one well so that is (3.4p + *2.5%) then the new total +17.5%. I think he should abolish the fuel duty increase. Another stealth tax. Helping workers my foot. He is not even helping the government. All there cost will rise, food prices will rise, train fares will rise, flight prices, oh another tax will rise the passenger duty or whatever they call it. Deceitful, dissembling lying.......

  • Comment number 49.

    A sorry testimony to complete and abject failure. A Budget delivered by a Kamikaze Chancellor on behalf of a tired old Prime Minister. One of the longest suicide notes in history.

  • Comment number 50.

    Why is everyone moaning about how they are so fed up with spin but jumping at the chance to elect a PR man - seriously are you actually excited about a chap who's economic expertise was formed by being a Special Advisor on Black Wednesday? And as for labour mp's being supported by Unions - perhaps you think it would be better if only Etonians of proper breeding (& money) could afford to become MP's? The Minimum wage, investiment in health, public services & education - would these have happened without New Labour? As for the War in Iraq/Afghanistan & the Recession do you all think these would NOT have happened under the Tories? Fair enough at hating spin & politicians who promise the world whilst lining their own pockets - but don't seriously think that fundementally the Tories are any different to Labour

    Also these Ad hominem attacks on Nick & The BBC are no argument for supporting the Tories and smack of a lack of any actual Conservative policies to get excited about. Keep up the good work Nick - don't let the gloryhunters on here who are now furiously making excuses for the Tories because they are sensing the chance to support a winning team (all Man U fans from London perchance?)
    I'm moving to Luton South and voting for Esther!

  • Comment number 51.

    22. At 2:08pm on 24 Mar 2010, manuinlondon wrote:
    Good budget politically & economically. Calm & rational.


    Is this the view from the bunker?

    The whole thing was a joke from a dead man walking.


    I'm not borrowing £178 Billion I'm borrowing £167 Billion so I have a surplus.

    Back to school Mr Darling

    -178
    - -167

    = - 11

    Not +11

    You are still £167 Billion in debt

    Or should I say we are with a fool at the controls

    A Labour fool

  • Comment number 52.

    Taking a quick scan of the measures in this Budget, there appears to be absolutely nothing that will help the economy. For instance it will make very little difference in my opinion whether fuel duty goes up by 3p now or gradually in 10 months time the result will be the same. Everyone will be expecting the rise therefore will be forced to accommodate it.

    Help for small business was not there either, what he is giving one hand he is paying for by taxation already announced. Therefore pointless really. Pubs are small business and are closing rapidly the duty increase on beer will be a significant blow and will increase closures.

    Yes, you can force the banks to lend, but if it is to business and people that cannot pay that credit back it is a very dangerous thing to do. This will just return banks to the situation of too little capital and toxic debt.

    The stamp duty holiday is a reasonable idea but was offset by the increase in duty on homes over million pounds. In London many houses are worth this amount and more, that people have owned for many years, it will just mean the housing market in profitable areas will slow up.

    Darlings growth figures are not realistic it seems therefore any reduction of debt based on these figures is not to be taken too seriously.

    The very slight reduction in borrowing should not be taken too seriously either. With all the stimulus the Government entered into, I would be surprised if this is sustainable.

    All in all I think this budget was merely a political statement and not to be taken as containing serious measures. The only real interest stirred in the Labour Party for this Budget was when yet again Darling used Ashcroft as a means to attack the Conservatives. Very unprofessional of Darling really, considering recent events and the issue of the Union funding in their own Party. With this Budget Darling will be lucky to halve the deficit in 24 years let alone 4 in my opinion. This Budget will not impress the Markets.

    Really now the Conservatives need to capitalize on this dreadful showing by Labour and focus on the really needed policies to get Britain out of this mess. That is small state, a proper plan for growth and lower taxation.

  • Comment number 53.

    Presumably, if the Tories fail to win the election, Dave will sign on with a theatre company and go in for acting full time. Wow, what a performance but, as his American mentors would ask, where's the beef? The old school Tories must hide under their seats when he stands to deliver his diatribe. Just imagine the reaction if this man was to represent this nation to the rest of the world. Who would take us seriously ever again?

  • Comment number 54.

    #36 along with IR35 a year or 2 later

  • Comment number 55.

    A reasonable fair budget in the circumstances, focussing on jobs, and growth, VAT, interest rates and inflation focussing on peoples homes and livelihoods.

    Would have liked to seen more on measure to curb population growth in this country and taxation measures to reduce it and ease people off the burden of benefits.

  • Comment number 56.

    This comment has been referred for further consideration. Explain.

  • Comment number 57.

    "Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft."

    Nasty, spiteful bit of nonsense from a gang of nasty, spiteful little non-entities.

  • Comment number 58.

    Vince Cable is on YouTube pointing out why I hadn't found any of the budget particularly offensive. It's because the government haven't actually said where they will be making all of the spending cuts. Oh well, I am sure I will be suitably horrified to learn where these cuts will fall.
    For balance I should point out that the Tories haven't suggested where they might cut either so they are as bad as each other in this respect.
    Why can't Vince Cable run my country?

  • Comment number 59.

    I am surprised by this budget in that the figures for the economy as not as dire as was predicted. They are still pretty bad and the economy is fragile and needs supporting but at least we are moving in the right direction. I've lived though a lot of recessions the worst being in the early 80's and this is not as bad as it has been in terms of job losses and people losing their homes and we will recover from it whoever wins the election, even if we have a double dip recession.
    I was reminded of budgets past. The industrial intervention was from the Major/Heseltine years and worked then -it was a shame that this policy wasn't followed in the 79-83 government. Cameron comparing the deficit to a household budget reminded me of Thatcher with her shopping basket talking about the economy in terms of a housewife's budget (it was 31 years ago when this language had an impact) and it worked well for her. Maybe Cameron the PR specialist is onto something here.
    I thought Cameron came over as a bit slick on what is a serious matter for the country -to many political jokes and playing to the tory gallery a misjudged opportunity to be prime ministerial and set out how serious the tories are about the economy. I did laugh at George's face when Cameron spoke about one of the quango's he's going to set up, the Office for Fiscal responsibility, to keep the chancellor honest, -meaning George. I don't think Cameron meant to say it like it came across in the heat of debate, but it was funny.
    We now know roughly the shape of the Labout campaign it would be good to know what the Tories are promsing in terms of regulatory and welfare reform so we can make an informed choice.
    For those of you talking about the BBC's & Nick's bias (mainly I feel because they are not showing enough favouritism to the tories for you -i.e not pandering to your bias). Try watching the budget on the parliament channel. That way you can see everything that's said.

  • Comment number 60.

    Re Tojo2

    We have a lot of houses up here in the North West of England worth over a million. So anyone moving out of London and coming up here will feel at home!

  • Comment number 61.

    Taking the phrase Many not the few; can you explain Gizmo how increasing fuel duty helps the many, or even how it manages to penalise the few. IMHO it makes everything more expensive, gives greater opportunity for Continental cowboys to undercut British companies and so screws everybody.

  • Comment number 62.

    gizmo81 @ 50

    You say that you are moving to Luton South and voting for Esther!

    Metaphorically speaking, that is exactly what people living in England, fedup to the back teeth with the three mainstream parties, should be doing.

    That is, thinking independently of the unremitting 'mainstream three' media barrage and voting for 'any of the others', which is a big ask and I'm not sure if the voting public in our England can be bothered.

    So maybe a patently clapped out and utterly discredited political system in England will grind on for a few more years dur to voter apathy.

    People living in our England need nothing less than a revolution in the head.

  • Comment number 63.

    Our situation is desperate. A virtually unimaginable defecit of £ 170 Billion this year alone. But for no other reason than there happens to be a previous forecast that is ever so ever so slightly worse than this ( £178 Billion) suddenly the media is spamming us with soundbites such as "the governement will have to borrow less than expected" and "Darling has room to manoeuvre". Only this government could spin a situation as catastrophic as the one we face over the next few years as a remarkable achievment. The sad truth is the electorate believe this nonsense. I am sorry Nick but I have now decided those accusing you of political bias are right afterall. Shame on you. Just remember after the election the aprt you played in getting this government re-elcted.

  • Comment number 64.

    There are many comments about growth forecasts etc. I think if you look up the predictions a year ago, the Treasury were quite accurate, where as the no hopers (i.e the Cameron/ Osborne collective) were amazingly wrong.

    The fact is that Brown & Darling have steered a steady course through the global economic crisis and are getting the credit they deserve in the financial markets. The shrill comments here is proof that it is the Tories with their "cuts at any cost" mantra that are out of touch with the markets & the electorate. Destined to be also rans in the election.

    Any how, please do make your self happier by having a few digs....

  • Comment number 65.

    @ 51. At 3:47pm on 24 Mar 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:

    If you are able to please answer the following: If we followed the Cameron/ Osborne diktat of no support for the economy, no bank nationalisations etc what economic circumstances would prevail in this country today? Let's stick with GDP, Unemployment & Debt

    It is the Tory party that have their heads in the sand - no judgement, no policies and morally bankrupt!

  • Comment number 66.

    22. At 2:08pm on 24 Mar 2010, manuinlondon wrote:
    Good budget politically & economically. Calm & rational.

    Particularly when compared with the Cameron response - he was simply shrill & simply read a prepared statement. No reality, no judgement & no policies. Bankrupt really!


    I agree that it was a rational budget. No rabbits out of hats, just a steady-as-you-go budget which ticks the right boxes. (Although some might share my opinion that it was the box-ticking school of management that was largely responsible for getting us into this mess in the first place). But anyway, it was as good as could be done I think, given the circumstances.

    I think you are being unfair to Cameron; his was a good performance. What does it matter if it was pre-scripted? What do you expect? It wasn't aimed at the Government benches. The Government are probably not going to vote Conservative. It was aimed at an undiscerning electorate, and probably hit its target square on.

  • Comment number 67.

    At least Darling semed to believe there was some justification in what he was saying.

    I still remember Brown saying he'd chop the 10p tax band, so he could "support" middle class families. AS though that would help the very people he claimed/claims to support.

    Darling still hasn't put that right.

    I don'[t nderstand why Darling and Brown don't simply say they will stop hiring into the public sector.

    It makes no social or economic sense for the public bodies to be hiring when the private - tax-generating - sector continues to bleed jobs.

    very public sector worker is paid from tax. Then pays back a bit (if their pay is high enough).

    But the tax take can't be made up/pretended year on year. If it could be, we'd have been "quantatively easing" - printing non-existent money - since about 1700.

    How this profligate bunch of free-spenders think they can suddenly find "efficiency savings" is beyond me. The National Audit Office couldn't work out where prevbiously claimed efficiency benefits existed.

    So announcing a bunch of putative figures doesn't do it for me.
    There's no gain without pain. Where is the pain, when public sector hiring continues even when the private sector is bleeding?

    If you couldn't take 5% costs out of government, you'd be an idiot.

    If you couldn't take 10% cost out, you wouldn't make the selection interview at any decent company.

    If you tried to justify where all the money has actually gone for a decade, you'd probably be escorted to a white van, well-dressed in a straight-jacket.

    Brown always confused SPENDING INCREASES with BENEFIT DELIVERED.
    So wrong.

    That's been the main madness of the UK over the last decade.


  • Comment number 68.

    60. At 4:21pm on 24 Mar 2010, wirralwesleyan wrote:
    Re Tojo2

    We have a lot of houses up here in the North West of England worth over a million. So anyone moving out of London and coming up here will feel at home!


    No! You wouldn't like it here - it rains all the time and there are no shops. Please stay in London.

  • Comment number 69.

    58. At 4:12pm on 24 Mar 2010, Andy Gi>raham wrote:
    Why can't Vince Cable run my country?


    He was rejected by his party as leader because it was felt that young families wouldn't identify with him.

  • Comment number 70.

    'Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.'

    Yes that was a beautiful touch as was the increase in stamp duty for million pound houses. Overall a decent budget with good incentives for small business, particularly the business rate cut that is really welcome. Cameron's reply was his usual hysterical whine. I cannot wait for the leaders debates. Cameron is so short on detail and policy it is truly staggering. If his Gay rights interview is anything to go by he is going to be slaughtered. Labour is going to win this election. This is no time for a novice.

  • Comment number 71.

    58#

    BBC News reported (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8567543.stm%29 that "Nick Robinson said he understood that the party was waiting for the Budget on 24 March before unveiling more about what spending could be cut this financial year."

    Hang fire for a few days.

  • Comment number 72.

    '53. At 3:55pm on 24 Mar 2010, grendad wrote:
    Presumably, if the Tories fail to win the election, Dave will sign on with a theatre company and go in for acting full time. Wow, what a performance but, as his American mentors would ask, where's the beef? The old school Tories must hide under their seats when he stands to deliver his diatribe. Just imagine the reaction if this man was to represent this nation to the rest of the world. Who would take us seriously ever again?'

    Of course your are right. Cameron has nothing to offer, no substance and no policies. Roll on the election campaign.

  • Comment number 73.

    '44. At 3:15pm on 24 Mar 2010, manuinlondon wrote:
    I do enjoy reading these comments. over the past week I've been reading some astounding stories from the other side of the pond justifying the Right's position to deny health care to the poor.

    Reading the responses here, it is exactly the same. As someone else pointed out the 50% tax rate isn't going to make a £100K+ earner start shopping at Aldi - get a reality check, folks!'

    Sound and sensible comment. Obama's campaign in the run up to the crucial vote was nothing short of a bombshell. Fantastic effort. Brown's I can assure you will be likewise.

  • Comment number 74.

    58. At 4:12pm on 24 Mar 2010, Andy Graham wrote:
    Why can't Vince Cable run my country?

    I believe he is a decent man. But sadly he is in the wrong party.

  • Comment number 75.

    wirralwesleyan @ 59

    "I am surprised by this budget in that the figures for the economy as not as dire as was predicted. They are still pretty bad and the economy is fragile and needs supporting but at least we are moving in the right direction"

    understatement of the century so far!

    not as dire as predicted?
    one of the big debates at the moment, is funding care for the elderly - which used to be via the nhs that everyone's paid into, but labour have broken it off as a chunk (as they did with dental care) and are now seeking to charge people seperately for it.

    it is widely acknowledged by all concerned that there is a £28 billion pound black hole in funding elderly care.

    * everyone currently 40 or over will have to work until they are 68 - 3 years extra for men, 8 years extra for women - spent now, public will pay later
    * taxation on a person's home when they die, payable by the person's estate - inheritance tax under another name - spent now, public will pay later

    despite these and other extra taxes, when someone is employed in a job they cannot physically do, the taxpayer will subsidise them with tax credits in a lower paid job, costing the taxpayer twice!
    if we found £28 billion pounds down the back of the UK's sofa, this gap would be plugged - we could return to retirement at 60 and 65, we wouldnt have to subsidise elderly workers, we wouldnt have to impose taxes on people's homes and what they leave their loved ones, we would be able to return to having care for our elderly provided by the nhs again, which is what many have already paid for with their contributions.

    compare this with how much taxpayer money was given to save northern rock!
    compare this to the increase in the amount of money the UK had to borrow in this last financial year - £167 billion pounds.

    not to worry though, at least the UK is "moving in the right direction"

  • Comment number 76.

    '64. At 5:19pm on 24 Mar 2010, manuinlondon wrote:
    There are many comments about growth forecasts etc. I think if you look up the predictions a year ago, the Treasury were quite accurate, where as the no hopers (i.e the Cameron/ Osborne collective) were amazingly wrong.

    The fact is that Brown & Darling have steered a steady course through the global economic crisis and are getting the credit they deserve in the financial markets. The shrill comments here is proof that it is the Tories with their "cuts at any cost" mantra that are out of touch with the markets & the electorate. Destined to be also rans in the election.

    Any how, please do make your self happier by having a few digs....'

    Absolutley! The truth is out there. And the momentum is firmly with Brown and Darling.

  • Comment number 77.

    As I understand it, all the many trailed cuts that came in the departmental press releases after Darling sat down are not really cuts. These departments are still going to be allocated the same money; but to keep the sharp end looking the same, Ministers are saying they are going to make Sir Humphrey like, "efficiency," savings somewhere, anywhere in their respective departments. Bit like rearranging the deckchairs on the Titantic. There`s nothing more complicated than a NuLabour budget speech. Maybe in the fullness of time when the fine print has been trawled through all will become clear.

  • Comment number 78.

    Nick Robinson is so pro-Brown it's untrue. I hope Cameron does away with both of them.

  • Comment number 79.

    On reflection Darling was spitedul and childish. Is this what labour have become, I guess when this is how liars behave.

  • Comment number 80.

    Great budget Mr. Darling! The Black Wednesday aficionado, Cameron, showed his usual lack of grasp of economic policy in his - shall we call it? - 'reply'. It's not a Wall Game, Dave. Numbers come into it, so why don't you supply some? Even a guess might help.

  • Comment number 81.

    80#

    Yawn. Another two line stooge. BOOOOORING!

  • Comment number 82.

    77#

    So it would seem Briang, so it would seem.

    Interestingly, it would appear that there is going to be cuts made in the amount of consultants they hire in, particularly where IT projects, administrative services and the such like are concerned.

    Quite how anything is going to work properly, considering how much churn and how much rotation of posts happens in the Civil Service. Quite frequently the expertise to not only design, acquire and/or build a system doesnt stay in place long enough to deliver the thing, let alone run it and maintain it through its lifecycle. Its precisely because of this churn and lack of expertise that they have to either outsource the things to the likes of EDS et al, lock stock and barrel or that they have to call consultants in in the first place.

    Liable to be a significant amount of two things arising as a result, until they have a more robust way of looking after their own systems in-house. One, systems are likely to fail to work and will be offline and unavailable for longer periods, having an impact on a departments ability to function or deliver a service. Or two, the same amount of consultants/outsourcers will be hired anyway, but will be brought in from overseas on other agreements.

    or both. :-)

  • Comment number 83.

    70. At 5:45pm on 24 Mar 2010, GoBetween wrote:

    'Update 13:30: Pursuing his "many not the few" theme the chancellor has just delighted Labour MPs by announcing a tax agreement with Belize to target Tory billionaire donor Lord Ashcroft.'

    Yes that was a beautiful touch as was the increase in stamp duty for million pound houses.

    ------------------------------------------------------------

    I agree with the stamp duty increase on million pound houses (and in someways think that it didnt go far enough and should have been done years ago, but thats another matter), but the thing I have to ask you is this.

    Do you know what a reciprocal tax agreement between two countries actually is?

    Do you know what it actually does?

    Or was the pealing of the Pavlovian bell labelled "Belize" enough to get you barking your head off in the schoolyard, salivating in anticipation of a few more scraps of red meat??

  • Comment number 84.

    65. At 5:23pm on 24 Mar 2010, manuinlondon wrote:

    @ 51. At 3:47pm on 24 Mar 2010, PortcullisGate wrote:

    If you are able to please answer the following: If we followed the Cameron/ Osborne diktat of no support for the economy, no bank nationalisations etc what economic circumstances would prevail in this country today? Let's stick with GDP, Unemployment & Debt

    It is the Tory party that have their heads in the sand - no judgement, no policies and morally bankrupt!
    ---------------------------------------------------------------------

    You are in no position whatsoever to call ANY party "morally bankrupt" mate. Not even the Khymer Rouge. Your party is a moral free zone.

    Can you not hear the clamorous sound of black pots and kettles? Or do those red blinkers cover your ears as well??

  • Comment number 85.

    53#

    Who would take us seriously ever again?

    -----------------------------------------

    You honestly think we're being taken seriously now????

  • Comment number 86.

    "Nick Robinson is so pro-Brown it's untrue. I hope Cameron does away with both of them."

    This is just one example of some of the organised comments I have noticed attacking Nick.

    Is there an organised attempt by the Tory Madarasa and those in the pockets Murdock to trash the BBC?

    Anyway, back to topic.

    "Force for Good", I would say a "Force for Stability".

    Darlings performance was good, and his "Belize" joke almost brought the house down.

    The Tories jeering at the Tax break for First Time buyers, were immeadiatly silenced by the tax on Millionaires homes.

    Camerons performance was Ok, but he looked like he was in a bit of pain. He looked as if his fall in the polls is affecting him.

    Brown and Darling seemed to be like a couple of kids laughing and joking at Camerons expense off camera, which infuriated Cameron even more. At this point Cameron looked a bit unstable.

    Brown got some shots in earlier, in the quip about "an own goal" over peerages.

    Overall I think people will tend to side with Darling. He seems like a towering figure compared to Osborne, who seems to have been shrunk to the size of a pygmy.

    Election of the Chancellors? If it was, Darling would win hands down?

  • Comment number 87.

    Mr. Robinson:

    Thanks, for the informative updates in regards to the Budget that was
    announced in the United Kingdom House of Commons.....

    (Dennis Junior)

  • Comment number 88.

    The Chancellor said in his budget statement:
    "From next month because of above-inflation increases in the basic state pension, and the introduction of the pension credit, every pensioner will be entitled to a weekly income of £132.60"
    Recently my husband received his letter telling him he will be getting £105.16 in April so he contacted The Pension Service to ask how he could claim the difference - they told him that this was not so!! - only some pensioners are entitled to this. They told him that they had been overwhelmed with calls asking the same question! It is a very clear statement - but it seems, even so, it cannot be relied on. It seems to be an untruth.

  • Comment number 89.

    #86 You are a draperbot and should be ashamed of yourself.

    The Beliza joke was the use of the budget statement to attack a single taxpayer. How mature was that when the country is bankrupt.

    And to actually praise the gibbering ape pulling faces (and eating bogies probably) when his counterpart is speaking just shows what total scum labour supporters are.

 

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