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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 March 2005, 19:06 GMT
UK voters' panel: Philippa Bartlett
In the run up to the general election we will be asking a panel of UK voters to share their views, in text and video, ahead of the expected poll in May. Here, in the first instalment, three of the panel give their reaction to Chancellor Gordon Brown's Budget.

Chris Li:

Watch Chris's views

Gary Watson:

Watch Gary's views

Philippa Bartlett:
Rothwell, Northants

Watch Philippa's views

Philippa Bartlett

Philippa Bartlett
Name: Philippa Bartlett
Age: 30
Lives: Rothwell, Northants
Works: Helpdesk manager for software company
Current voting intention: Liberal Democrat
In 10 words or less:
"Laid back Liberal, passionate about life, hates ignorance and prejudice"

It came as no surprise that this was a good news Budget as no chancellor is going to set out any major tax rises so close to an election.

The government targeted families and pensioners, meaning they assume that those groups will hold the deciding votes.

I was pleased to see that stamp duty has been raised to 120,000, but why did it take so long?

Changes to the threshold have been needed for a long time and I doubt they would have happened if there wasn't an election on the way.

I was also pleased that vehicle excise duty and petrol duty isn't to be raised as, living in a rural area, I can't get to work without my car.

Better funding for transport in rural areas would have been very welcome too, but you can't have everything.

Working for a small educational software company, I was very pleased to hear about the increased funding for IT in schools and help for small businesses.

On a personal level I hope that a year of 'paid' maternity leave actually provides enough money to stay at home.

All in all there were no nasty surprises, lots of popular moves and no clear explanations as to how everything is going to be paid for.

Standard pre-election Budget. Watch out for post-election tax rises!

Send us your comments on Philippa's views using the form below.

Your comments:

The 'too little too late' comment in her video regarding stamp duty is so accurate. It's been crippling those just trying to get on the ladder - no consolation to those of us who have only just forked out about 1,000 stamp duty and no help at all to those in areas where even a small flat costs in excess of the threshold. I am so disillusioned I'd vote anyone except Labour this time.
Chris, Lancashire, UK

I can completely agree with the comments about transport in rural areas - people living in large towns and cities do not realise how much we rely on cars. Bikes are often out of the question because of hedge trimming (which causes flat tyres) and the bus systems are not much use. I have to walk two miles to the nearest bus stop - so if I want to get somewhere on time, I usually have to drive.
Emily, Cumbria, UK

Philippa seems to have missed the point that increasing the stamp duty threshold to 120,000 helps very few people as a sale at 120,001 attracts stamp duty on the whole amount. Gordon Brown would have done better to make the system fairer: 0% on the first 120,000, 1% on the next 130,000, 3% on the next 250,000 and 4% on the balance.
Carl, Cambridge

Philippa has in general acknowledged that this was a good news budget. She has welcomed the stamp duty level raised to 120,000. She is very happy about paid maternity for one year. She is pleased about funding for schools in IT because she is in that domain, and yet she says that she will be voting for Lib Dem. Why? What more can she expect?
Parit, Reading, UK

I note with interest Philippa's comments about waiting for post election tax rises. Charles Kennedy has already said on record they would increase taxes so that comment is null and void except for the fact that taxes will increase in one way or another no matter who is in power.
Peter, Keighley, England

I wonder if Philippa's got a point here: Suppose Gordon Brown's record of meeting all of his growth predictions for national income was all a fluke, and that the more affluent consumers we see all around us were just a mirage? That would mean that income and company taxes would have had to go up since 1997 and not down. Perhaps we'd all better check our wage slips and mortgage interest rates for eight years ago and ask ourselves whether we're substantially better off or not, than in those dark days.
Andrew Dundas, Ilkley, UK

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