Page last updated at 17:55 GMT, Friday, 21 November 2008

Pre-Budget report: Voters' hopes

The chancellor will deliver his pre-Budget report on Monday. There is widespread speculation that he will cut taxes and increase public spending to stimulate the economy.

Here, voters from across the UK share what they would like to see from the government.


Anne Gall
Age: 64
Occupation: Pensioner
Income: Private and state pension
Location: Port Talbot, Wales
Lives with: Son
I would like to see everyone get a decent pension so that we can afford to pay high fuel and food prices.

But I'm not very optimistic about the future. I feel the government is always focusing on families and ignoring older people - despite the fact that we are growing in number.

I have been a widow since I was 50. Times have got a lot worse over the last 14 years.

The cost of fuel is really crippling us pensioners. I've had to reduce my thermostat as I did last winter and still I will have to cut down on other things to be able to pay my bills. The winter fuel payment is welcome but doesn't cover everything.

I fear it could be a long hard winter for many people with the economy in the state it is.

The housing market is still flat - but prices are still too high. My son is 33 but is living with me because he can't afford to get on the housing ladder.

My daughter is struggling with a young child. Child benefits are simply not enough to help with the cost of a growing child. This is another thing the chancellor could help with.


Adrian Robinson
Age: 43
Occupation: Business owner
Family income: Above 50,000
Location: Wakefield
Lives with: Wife and two children
I am a small business owner employing four people. We sell tools to consumers and supply parts to industry.

We've heard the government may offer small businesses the chance to defer payments of VAT or national insurance contributions. We also hear the government may support bigger loans for small business.

Any changes need to be made in the long term. A VAT 'holiday' would not work if it was only over a six-month period. This would not give small businesses enough time to recover. We would just be hit by large bills as we start to move out of recession.

Lending money to businesses at this time is just wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, it would be a bit like offering mortgages to people who couldn't afford to pay them - which is how we got into this problem in the first place.

It's difficult to know if the government's been doing the right thing with the economy. My heart tells me that we shouldn't be bailing out banks after mistakes were made. But my head asks the question - what will happen if we don't rescue the banks and would we be prepared for the consequences?

What would I like to see from the government? I would like to see it behaving more like a small business - by cutting all unnecessary expenditure. Also, strong leadership. We need a bit of bulldog spirit at this time.

Andrew Knight
Age: 22
Occupation: Financial analyst
Income: 30,000
Location: Leeds
Lives with: Fiancee
The important thing now is to protect the UK economy. I would like to see the chancellor do the prudent thing, which means not cutting taxes or increasing borrowing at this time.

In the short term I, like everybody else, would be happy with a cut in income tax and more money in my monthly wage packet. But I know we will all end up paying for it in the long term through much higher taxes. So I can't agree with this.

It may be better to raise taxes now so we can start the healing process. But through fear of the party political consequences the government won't go down this line.

My message to the chancellor would be if you are going to cut a tax make it income tax.

I haven't been impressed with the performance of either of the major parties during this economic crisis. I am not happy with Labour. They are the party which spent instead of saved during the boom years. Borrowing your way out of a recession only works if you save in the boom.

Rather than bailing out the banks with billions, the government could have created a nationalised savings bank. This could have bought up savings accounts from failed banks and would have been in a position to lend to people and business.


Samantha Callaghan

Age: 41
Occupation: Office supervisor
Income: With husband 46,000
Location: Carshalton, Surrey
Lives with: Husband and son
The chancellor has been hinting at tax cuts of some kind. I would like to see a real cut in income tax for working families like ours. Nothing else will make a difference.

I work as an office supervisor and my husband works in the building trade. He sometimes struggles for work because migrant workers will do the job for half the price. We cannot afford to buy a property and so are forced into the very expensive private rental market. I also have to pay for full-time childcare.

We really don't have any money to spare: we don't have enough to go out or save. So we would probably spend any extra money we had from a cut in income tax.

But I think the government will just increase tax credits which will not help people like us. Another cut in VAT or tax on petrol would also be welcome, but I'm not sure how likely that is.

Once again working families like ours may lose out. All the extra borrowing will have to be paid for one day - so we'll probably end up paying for this in higher taxation.

We also need a radical change in the welfare system to free up money for the country. We're paying for too many people who will just remain on benefits for their whole lives.


Ishbell Lovell

Age: 45
Occupation: Civil servant
Income: 15 - 20,000
Location: Edinburgh
Lives with: Son
I'm a single working mother with a 13-year-old son. I work part time, which isn't ideal but it means I am there for my child at the start of the day and for when he comes home from school.

My income is low but not low enough for me to get help from the government. So my main concern is the bills I have to pay. I've just received my electricity bill - and it's huge.

I like working but sometimes I feel I would be better off financially if I stayed at home and received benefits.

Tax credits are a godsend for people like me. I would like to see an increase in these in the pre-Budget report. Maybe they should be restructured so people on the lower end of the income scale get more money.

I would also like the government to push banks to help small businesses. It would seem a false economy to let thousands go bust with the knock-on effect on jobs.

I am concerned about the increase in the national debt and worry that this may mean we get an even nastier shock in the future when we have to pay it back.

But I have to say that I am pleasantly surprised about the government's performance over the crisis. At least they are actively trying to do something to steer us through this mess.

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