Budget highlights at a glance

24 March 2010

Chancellor Alistair Darling has delivered his Budget report - his last before the general election.

Highlights include:

* Darling says the "right course was made" to help the UK out of the recession.

* He adds the task is to bring down borrowing while at the same time helping people and businesses. The government plans to halve the deficit within the next four years.

* 50% tax on bankers' bonuses - announced in the pre-Budget report - has raised £2 billion, twice as much as forecast.

* ISA allowance will increase annually in-line with inflation.

* Fuel duty will rise by 1p instead of 3p this April - with another 1p rise in October.

* 0% stamp duty threshold will increase to £250,000 (from £125,000) for first-time buyers from midnight tonight (24 March) for this year. This will be paid for by a rise in stamp duty to 5% for properties over £1 million.

* Darling confirms plans to improve financial inclusion by ensuring everyone has access to a basic bank account. Around 1.75 million people currently don't  have a bank account.

* The inheritance tax threshold has been frozen for a further four years to help fund long-term care.

Child tax credit will increase by £4 a week for one and two years olds from 2012. Winter fuel payment will be guaranteed for another year for nine million pensioner households.  

* The main rate of capital gains tax will remain at 18% - however, for entrepeneurs, the lower 10% threshold will increase to £2 million.

* "Cider has been undertaxed" - therefore duty will increase by 10% above inflation on Sunday.Tobacco duty will rise by 1% above inflation and duty on beer, wine and spirits will rise by 2% from midnight.

* The national minimum wage will rise. From 1 October 2010, workers aged 21 and over will see the minimum wage increase by 2.2% from  £5.80 to £5.93; workers aged between 18 and 20 will receive a 1.9% increase from £4.83 to £4.92; and 16 to 17 year olds will benefit from a 2% increase from £3.64 to £3.57.

* At the heart of the Budget will be a £2.5 billion one-off growth package for businesses, paid for by switching spending and the proceeds from tax on bank bonuses.

* Over the next year, RBS and Lloyds will have to fund £94 billion in new business loans, more than 50% of which will be for small and medium businesses.

* £100 million to improve local roads and £185 million for motorways.

* Darling confirmed predicted economic growth of 1% to 1.5% in 2010.

* The borrowing forecast has been cut by £11 billion. Borrowing will be £167 billion this year, £163 billion in 2010/11 and £131 billion in 2011/12. National debt forecast will fall from 56% to 54% of GDP in 2009/10.

* Immediate cuts to spending would be "wrong and dangerous", Darling warns.The government will stick to its spending plans next year. However, he confirms £11 billion cost-efficiency savings.

*  Extend support for young people out of work until March 2012 - it was originally meant to end in March 2011. This guarantee means "no one under 24 will be unemployed for longer than six months without offer of work or training," he says.

* £270 million to help universities create more places for students in 2010/11.

* Darling points out that the unemployment claimant count is lower than the one Labour inherited in 1997 - despite the recession.

* Housing benefit needs to be reformed - from October next year, the most expensive properties will be excluded from this calculation in each area, saving nearly £250 million each year.

* Bailing out the banks was the right decision, he adds. "We intend to get all taxpayers' money back."

* "We need long-term reform to prevent excessive risk taking [by banks]," Darling says. This involves ensuring banks are well capitalised but also curbing renumeration.

* International 'tax on the banks' must be brought forward quickly. "There can be no return to business as usual for banks."

* Tory policies would "suffocate" recovery.


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