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Thursday, 13 March 2008


The days when the budget was one of the highlights of the parliamentary year attracting huge news coverage and whipping up strong emotions are long gone. Today the budget is one event among many, but no less important for that. Alistair Darling did a good job yesterday, declaring: "Even in today's difficult and uncertain times, we are determined that we will not be diverted from our long-term aim: to equip our country for the challenges of the future, confront climate change and end child poverty in this generation."

The £1.7 billion package to lift a further 250,000 out of child poverty is extremely good news. The higher vehicle excise duty for higher carbon emissions, the 10% increase in air passenger duty and the plan to make all non-essential buildings carbon neutral by 2019 are significant proposals to tackle climate change. Equally important was the £575 million for higher winter fuel payments for pensioners. The little reported lifeline to registered charities allowing them to keep the current rates of tax relief on Gift Aid donations also showed the Government's commitment to improving life for everyone in this country.

I have no problem with the extra 4p on a pint of beer, 14p on a bottle of wine and 55p on a bottle of spirits, which strike me as a good way of raising revenue. All in all it as the budget we need at the moment - prudent and equitable making sound financial sense.

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