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Budget: short on economic measures, long on party political statements

Published:  24 March, 2010

Chancellor Alistair Darling delivered his 'Budget of recovery' today. "Our economy is at a crossroads and this Budget will set out a route to long-term recovery," he said. At its heart the Budget was billed as a package to invest in small and medium-sized businesses and jobs.

Mr Darling said the UK "can't take growth for granted" and that government must play its part in helping businesses to grow. That means access to finance.

Bank lending:

The Chancellor stated that over the next year he has agreed with the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds – both state-subsidised – will lend around £94bn. At least half of that is to go to SMEs. This covers approximately 98% of UK businesses.

Business rates:

Business rates are to be cut for a year from October. That means a tax reduction for 500 000 small companies in England. The annual investment allowance will also be doubled to help new companies get off the ground.

Investment bank for clean energy:

The Chancellor stated that he wanted to set up an investment bank controlling £2bn of equity which will focus on investing in greener, cleaner energy and transport.

Bureaucracy support for business:

Mr Darling plans to create a new investment corporation – called UK Finance For Growth – to oversee the Government's £4bn range of support for businesses and help them negotiate the bureaucracy involved.

Capital gains tax:

The Chancellor is to increase the relief on capital gains tax for entrepreneurs – leaving the main rate of capital gains tax unchanged for the rest of the population.

Road repairs:

There will £100m for local road repairs and £285m for motorway improvements and expansion projects.

Fuel duty:

Next month's planned 3p increase in fuel duty will be introduced. It will now be staggered, with a 1% rise in April, a further 1% rise in October, and then again next January. AA president Edmund King said he believed Mr Darling had responded to public pressure.

Hike in stamp duty:

That cut for first-time buyers will be paid for by a hike in stamp duty to 5% for properties worth more than £1m.

First-time home buyers will pay no stamp duty on properties worth up to £250 000. That will apply to this year and the next.

Inheritance tax:

To be frozen for four years.

VAT and NI:

Mr Darling said he had no further announcements on VAT, income tax or National Insurance.

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