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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March 2004, 16:52 GMT
Your reaction to the Budget
The chancellor and Prime Minister
Gordon is happy, but is the public?
If you take Gordon Brown's word for it - he has just delivered yet another brilliantly prudent Budget.

But listen to the Conservatives and the chancellor is once again proposing to over-spend wildly.

Yet what do politicians know? With the Budget affecting every man and woman in the street, it is your view that ultimately counts the most.

Whether you are a smoker fuming with anger or a delighted spirits drinker, here are some of your initial e-mailed thoughts and feelings. As you can imagine, they are pretty mixed.

Laura from Sheffield is one of those rather pleased.

'Moderate'

"I think this can be seen as a positive Budget and congratulate Mr Brown on increasing expenditure in vital areas such as health and education," she said.

Budget measures
Beer duty up 1p
Duty frozen on spirits, cider and sparkling wine
Tax on cigarettes up 8p a packet
Inheritance tax threshold up to 263,000
Corporation tax, capital gains tax, air passenger duties, vehicle excise duty and stamp duty all frozen

Her upbeat opinion was shared by Laurence Archer, from Kingston in Surrey.

"Another moderate Budget from the man that can do no wrong," said Mr Archer.

"I'm a little concerned at the level of borrowing, but if the economy continues to grow as Mr Brown predicts we'll be fine.

Yet many others were rather less impressed, such as Andrew Carr from Chorley in Lancashire, who said the chancellor hasn't done enough to help people get on the property ladder.

"Where is the help for first-time buyers to get on the property market?"

Mr Carr added: "Surely Mr Brown could have increased the threshold you start paying stamp duty to a more realistic level compared to today's house prices!"

Taxation fears

Carl Evans from Llandudno in North Wales was equally forthright in his displeasure.

Mother and child
Are mums cheering?

"As per usual me and my family are worse off," he said.

"It seems that no matter how hard you work in this country, this government is always round the corner ready to take it off you."

Mr Evans' opposition to what he sees as ever-increasing taxation was shared by a substantial number of other readers, such as Fletcher from Poole in Dorset.

He was disappointed that the threshold for the top rate of tax has only gone up again by the rate of inflation.

'Wait and see'

"All this does is punish people earning a little above average, while the fat cats' accountants enable them to pay less than the very worst off," he said.

Others such as Nick, emailed in to say we will have to wait and see for the detail.

"The content of the budget speech must be the most boring in years...Gordon appeared to have almost nothing to say," he said.

"However, we have got into a routine where the bad news is 'hidden' in the finance bill."


What did you think of this year's Budget?

Your comments:

Another seemingly moderate budget with, apparently, lots of give and take. However, too much trust is put into projected growth rates to sustain the levels of tax receipts and proposed borrowing. The moves to cut civil service and/or central government costs are always welcome, if they ever actually happen. The opportunity to lower the stamp duty to help first time house buyers has been missed again as has the opportunity to re-develop the existing "empty" housing stock, which, if properly managed would stop the ludicrous plans put forward by John Prescott for more housing
Graeme Morpeth, Dunton, England

This seems to be a something and nothing budget
D Welch, Stockport, Cheshire

This seems to be a something and nothing budget. As a Chartered Accountant, with a client base of about 60 small clients, there is little to stimulate the small business. One of the few bright spots was removing VAT for repairs on churches. The 19% charge on small company dividends is again another slap in the face to those who incorporated when enticed to by a zero tax rate threshold. This is what he should have done 4 years ago, instead of IR35 and all the pain that caused. It would have been a simple move, and many in the IT world would not have suffered. I think his main concern was to be re-elected next year. All the regulation is swamping small businesses, particularly the money laundering legislation is going to take people's concerns from making a living to worrying about being sued. That will cause profits to reduce, and so will tax revenues. The red tape could end up strangling our economy.
D Welch, Stockport, Cheshire

Obviously this was an election budget No big tax rises this time but as soon as Labour are relected (if!) we will get four years of heavy tax rises So be warned we will have to pay sooner or later. Also pensioners over 70 are to get 100 per year towards the council tax I thought pensioners started at 65 what about them?
Mark, Wales

For the second year running, Chancellor Gordon Brown has imposed a tax increase on the population, by not increasing personal allowances in line with inflation! This Government pledged that income tax rates would not be increased when they were elected in 1997. Their action in freezing personal allowances, although it may be deemed by those in power not to have broken this promise, will be viewed very differently by the electorate who are paying more tax to pay for very moderate increases in earnings and pensions. In April, my basic state pension will increase by a whopping 3.00 per week on which I shall have to pay income tax, because I also have a moderate occupational pension that I contributed to for many years.
Frank Bennett, Worcester Park, Surrey

Prudence and stability have certainly delivered for Britain over the past seven years
Martin Whelton, Wimbledon, UK

Thanks to the policies of Gordon Brown Britain has never has it so good. Unemployment at a thirty year low, interest rates 4% and inflation at less the 3%. This never happened under the Tories and along with the huge investment going on into public services shows that we have a Government committed to modernising and investing in our public services. Prudence and stability have certainly delivered for Britain over the past seven years.
Martin Whelton, Wimbledon, UK

I grew up on a Council Estate with parents either on benefit or working for low pay. Unlike many others on the estate I got off my backside and got an education (a BA and an MSc - I worked through both). I then got a professional qualification and over 10 years worked my way up the ladder to a senior position where I was well paid.

Recently I left to start my own business. Along the way I have saved - and paid tax, invested - and paid tax, bought a house - and paid tax. My job means I travel on roads and railways (for which I pay extortionate levels of tax) that are worse than ever and I am currently watching my dad suffer whilst waiting (7 months!) for a prostate operation on the NHS (when seven years of increased tax has supposedly improved things) - and now the Chancellor wants more tax off my small and not yet established business. When will this Government realise that people are better at spending what they earn than they are?
Andrew Freeman, Cheshire, UK

Just when will the public wake up to the fact that this Chancellor is not prudent! Are the British public so naive and uneducated that they cannot see through the spin and froth. Slowly killing business is something we will all pay for later. We cannot live off house price inflation for ever.
Laurence S, London

Its excellent that the chancellor is closing the tax avoidance loopholes such as the proposed NIC payable on small company dividends and monies ploughed into film investment, however as this budget only serves to raise revenues why have we not seen a progressive simplified taxation system. The basic rate of income tax should be dropped to 20% compensated by a reduction in the higher rate band for starters. It is astonishing how people on low incomes are not seeing real savings in real terms.
Michael, Darlington, UK

I know that no one will cry for us, but the civil service to take another battering yet again! Everyone goes on about us but myself and my team regularly work 50 plus hours per week , with some of them earning only 14,000 a year. How can they afford to live and now Tony and Gordon want our jobs too - cheers guys
Vincent, London

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who is more happy to believe Brown than Blair on a regular basis, and the recent budget has only reinforced this. He's been open about the high rate of spending, with a clear indication of reducing it if they get their third term - but of course, if they don't, the Tories will bang on about inheriting all the debt and use it as an excuse not to do anything positive. I'm very happy with the budget, particularly with the acknowledgement that they need to get rid of large numbers of unnecessary jobs - and I genuinely look forward to this happening in line with modernisation of current working practices in these areas.
MJ, UK

This is old Labour: Tax, borrow and spend on inefficient civil servants. I did what the Government asked, got educated (MSc, BSc), worked my way up the company in a Hi tech company, with skills this country is desperately short of, and what do I get for my troubles? Taxed for buying a house, with a tax meant for the very rich. Taxed because I've just managed to earn over 36K, with a tax meant for the super rich. Taxed because I have a pension, taxed because I need a car, taxed to the tune of 70% because I need to eat, drink, and live. No wonder the company I work for is considering moving my job off shore, they have to pay me 36K just for 70% to go in tax.
Harold, Camberley, England

As usual, Labour hits the small business! I was advised by our accountant to become a limited company rather than stay self employed, as I would benefit from additional tax savings. After having spent money changing my accounts and on registering as a limited company, what happens? Labour removes all small company benefits. Typical Labour tactics. When they first came into power they removed tax concessions on private pensions, that cost me thousands, now this. The sooner they go the better as far as I'm concerned.
Richard Lindsay, East Molesey, UK

The chancellor should be bolder. We need a simpler tax system (eg stamp duty applied to the amount over the limits; fewer regulations on companies to generate the entrepreneur culture; incentives for retraining skilled people whose jobs are being offshored (eg IT jobs) - how am I supposed to pay the mortgage when I lose my job at 40?
Mark, Ashbourne, UK




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