Darling defiant in face of recession
Chancellor Alistair Darling has unveiled a series of measures aimed at tackling the 'unprecedented economic crisis'. As widely anticipated, growth forecasts for 2009 have been revised down, with the economy expected to shrink by 3.5%; while borrowing forecasts have risen sharply to £175 billion. However, despite the economic gloom, the Chancellor asserted that the economy will recover, forecasting growth of 1.25% next year.
Key announcements include the introduction, from April 2010, of a 50% income tax rate for those earning more than £150,000 a year.
The stamp duty land tax 'holiday' for residential properties valued at £175,000 or less will be extended to the end of 2009.
Measures for businesses include the introduction of a temporary 40% first year allowance and an extension of help for loss-making companies.
The Chancellor allocated £1 billion to tackle climate change, and announced a commitment to cut UK carbon emissions by 34% by 2020.
The introduction of a 'car scrappage' scheme was also confirmed, offering £2,000 to people who trade in cars that are over 10 years old. Meanwhile, fuel duty will rise by 2p a litre from September 2009.
Other measures include an increase in the child element of Child Tax Credit from April 2010; credits towards the basic state pension for grandparents of working age who care for their grandchildren; and a rise in the annual limit for ISAs to £10,200.