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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 9 April, 2003, 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK
Thanks, Mr Brown, but...
A week after hearing the Budget wish list of two families, BBC News Online's Finlo Rohrer gets their reaction to Gordon Brown's measures.

Dr Andrew Kitching
Dr Andrew Kitching

Consultant anaesthetist Andrew Kitching - who has a wife and four-year-old child - described the Budget as a "low key" affair.

He said with much of the investment in the NHS announced in last year's Budget, this year's statement was "always going to be a case of watch and wait".

Dr Kitching, expressing his own personal views, said: "There were some nice touches, helping the elderly in hospital by not cutting their pension. I didn't even know it existed but I'm quite pleased he got rid of that."

But the 41-year-old from Reading warned the government that the new Budget offered nothing to suggest progress in the NHS could be speeded up, and insisted ordinary people needed to see improvement at a local level.

"It is when your local person goes to his local casualty department or has to wait for his hip operation.

"In my own personal experience, a lot of that money is going on waiting lists with people being treated in private hospitals - a very expensive way."

I don't know whether this endowment for babies is a gimmick
Dr Kitching

The consultant said he was wary of the chancellor's predictions of future growth, particularly as future health spending relied on them.

And the government's approach to duty on spirits, cider and sparkling wine, which was frozen, also irritated the doctor.

"He should have put them up with inflation as a minimum. To freeze them is a sop to populism.

"With cirrhosis and alcohol-related illness, freezing duty is not going to help us at all."

One of the government's headline measures, the "child trust fund" or "baby bond" of up to 500 to be given to the poorest children - with 250 for all other children - and topped up by the government until adulthood, was met with scepticism.

Dr Kitching said: "I don't know whether this endowment for babies is a gimmick or something to help with child poverty.

"That is the kind of thing families make their own provision for."

Tristan Ashby
The Ashby family

Tristan Ashby and his wife Kelly have a small daughter Elizabeth and another baby on the way.

Mr Ashby is unapologetic for his family orientated stance and said he welcomed the "baby bond", particularly if it was to be tied as a trust fund to pay for higher education.

"My priority is my family. If that's the idea behind it, it is a good starting point. There should be tax concessions to put money into the fund."

The 31-year-old said knowledge of his generation's student debts made him worry about the increasing burden.

He said he was realistic before the budget about any progress that might be made for people with families.

"It would have been too optimistic to hope for a big increase in child benefit."

It does sound gloomy
Mr Ashby

But he complained that changes to pay child tax credit directly into bank accounts made him worry about the amount of money wasted on bureaucracy.

And he said some of the other measures in the Budget needed to be means tested.

"The heating allowance for older people. My grandmother gets that and she says she doesn't need it. It is not one size fits all."

He said outside of the realm of the family, he was not left feeling optimistic by the Budget.

"Borrowing is at a high, sales have gone down. It does sound gloomy."

But even with the economic outlook unsure Mr Ashby said he did not object to the chancellor splashing 3bn on the war in Iraq, but he did question why the onus for so many forms of international action fell with the UK.

Mr Brown spoke of measures to combat global child poverty and improving education standards worldwide.

Mr Ashby said the aim was laudable, but added: "We are always the ones that have to be relied on. We should get our own house in order first."


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