Northern Ireland

Budget 2011: key measures announced by chancellor

Chancellor George Osborne has delivered what he has described as a "pro-growth" Budget, against a backdrop of job losses and spending cuts.

He confirmed that the personal tax allowance will rise a further £630 to £8,015 in April 2012.

Fuel duty is to be cut by 1p per litre from 1800 GMT. The planned 4p per litre rise due in April has been delayed to 2012.

Corporation tax will be cut by 2% in April, not 1% as previously planned.

There will be no additional changes to alcohol duty rates but tobacco duty rates will increase by 2% above inflation.

A new £250m shared equity scheme for first-time buyers will help 10,000 families get onto the housing ladder for the first time.

The chancellor said the figures from the Office for Budget Responsibility, showed growth is predicted to be 1.7% for 2011, 2.5% next year, 2.9% in 2013, 2.9% in 2014 and 2.8% in 2015.

Mr Osborne said inflation is expected to be between 4% and 5% this year - dropping to 2.5% next year and 2% in two years' time.

Mr Osborne also revealed that the government will consult on merging National Insurance and income tax.

He said the goal was to simplify them, not increase taxes.

Mr Osborne said such a move would make the tax system "fit for the modern age" but cautioned that it would take years.

The small business rate relief holiday is being extended by one year to October 2012, at a cost of £370m.

He said the measures he announced would be "fiscally neutral across the period", neither raising tax nor offering giveaways.

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