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Last Updated:  Thursday, 3 April, 2003, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Dear Chancellor...
On Wednesday, Gordon Brown will deliver his seventh Budget speech. BBC News Online's Peter Gould has been speaking to two families to find out what measures they want the Chancellor to introduce.

Dr Andrew Kitching
Dr Andrew Kitching

As a doctor, Andrew Kitching will be looking to the budget to provide more support for the NHS.

He is 41, and a consultant anaesthetist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.

This time last year, he welcomed the promise of more money for the health service, but voiced doubts about how quickly the funds would come through.

Twelve months on, expressing a personal view, he is concerned about how the extra cash is being used.

"There may be a lot of new money, but it does not feel like it at the sharp end," he says.

"A lot seems to have been spent on paying off debts and on things like waiting list initiatives, to meet government targets.

"I would like to see more money spent on the infrastructure of the NHS - the buildings and the equipment."

On a personal level, he points out that the increase in national insurance contributions announced last year is now coming into effect.

"It will have a substantial impact on my next pay packet," he says.

"If I knew the money was going into schools and hospitals I would not feel so bad about it."

Boosting the economy

Andrew thinks the chancellor is likely to be preoccupied with the cost of the war in Iraq. But he hopes to see efforts to stimulate the UK economy.

If the government put more money into the railway system, it would help to take the burden off the roads
Dr Andrew Kitching
"The NHS and schools depend on the tax revenue, and that depends on the productivity of the economy," he says.

"It is worrying at the moment, and manufacturing seems to be in a terrible state. If the government does not sort it out, it will mean less money for the public sector."

As a keen cyclist, Andrew has now sold his car, and gets to and from hospital on two wheels.

On the congested streets of Reading, that is often quicker than driving, although sometimes a little hazardous.

He thinks the chancellor should do more to protect the environment by encouraging people out of their cars and onto bicycles and public transport.

"If the government put more money into the railway system, it would help to take the burden off the roads," he says.

Tristan Ashby
The Ashby family

Tristan Ashby has a special reason for hoping the chancellor will have good news for families.

This time last year, he and his wife Kelly shared their home with their small daughter Elizabeth.

Now, on the eve of the 2003 budget, their second child is due. Like any expanding family they are thinking about their finances.

"The last year has been OK, because the tax credit for our child has been worth 50 a month," says Tristan.

I seem to be paying more tax, but where is it going?
Tristan Ashby

"But the system is about to change, and in future money will be paid direct into our bank account. It is going to be 40 a month, so we will be a little worse off.

"It also means we will have to notify them every time our financial situation changes, which is going to mean a lot more bureaucracy."

Switching sides?

Tristan is 31, and office manager for the Retained Firefighters' Union at their headquarters at Attleborough, in Norfolk. He also has a part-time job as a firefighter.

His wife Kelly has been working part time as a police officer in Norwich, but is now on maternity leave.

While they are hoping Gordon Brown will help them celebrate their new arrival, Tristan says he is not holding his breath.

"I was pro-Labour, but I think I am going the other way now," he says.

"I seem to be paying more tax, but where is it going? It is not going to local government. The council charge here is going up by 18%, but there are still lots of streets with no lights.

"So overall, I am not that happy."

Tristan says there should be lower rates of car tax for people like himself who do not drive very far because they live close to their place of work.

And he says he would like to see the chancellor put any tax increases on luxury items, like cigarettes and alcohol, rather than the necessities of life.

"That way, people would have a choice," he says.


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