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NEWS Tuesday, 9 March, 1999, 20:12 GMT
Benefitting families
Boosting families' incomes and support was one of the chancellor's headlines.

The emphasis was placed on helping parents meet the demands of earning a living while having children.

Child benefit will rise from April 2000 to 15 for the first child and 10 for further children.

The Treasury reckons working families with two children will be 740 a year better off.

Miras axed

A prediction that was fulfilled was withdrawing tax relief on mortgages. Miras goes on April 2000.

The current level of Miras is 10% of the first 30,000 of the price of a cost of a house. Gordon Brown said miras relief was worth an average of 2.50 a week or 130 a year.

Michael Coogan, director general of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, said: "At least with mortgage rates at their current low levels borrowers will be in a better position to absorb the rise in their mortgage payments next year."

John Massey, head of Midland Mortgages said the decision to abolish Miras, was not welcome, but was unlikely to damage the housing market.

Married couple's allowance The married couple's allowance is to be scrapped and replaced by a child tax credit in April 2001.

It will be worth 416 and as a result the typical family with children will be more than 200 a year better off, according to the Treasury's sums.

Children's tax credit will be tapered away for high earning families where there is a top rate taxpayer.

Similarly child benefit will not be taxed for those on the basic rate, or in the top bracket.

Tax changes reinforce the pledge to support children
Tax changes reinforce a pledge to support the demands of a family
"For too long the tax system has undervalued the family, helping parents when they need help most," said Mr Brown.

Working mums earning 30 a week or more, 95% of all women in work, will be entitled to claim 18 weeks maternity pay and all parents will be entitiled to three months unpaid leave for each child from December 1999.

Those who work hard for small rewards were among the chancellor's priorities.

As Gordon Brown said: "The Budget will reward work and make work pay for everyone in Britain."

The moves were welcomed by pressure groups like Child Poverty Action Group. Its director, Martin Barnes, said:

"The increase in child benefit and the children's tax credit represent an important recognition of the need to support families with children.

"We welcome the boost to means-tested benefits and hope that this is a sign that more will be done. There is clear evidence that benefits remain inadequate to meet essential budget needs."

Other changes included:

  • A new 10p tax rate on the first 1,500 of taxable income from April 1999.
  • A cut in the standard tax rate to 22p.
  • The capital gains tax threshold is raised to 7,100.
  • The inheritance tax threshold goes up by 8,000 to 231,000.
  • Petrol duty rises by 3.79p per litre from 1800 GMT on 9 March.
  • Vehicle excise duty is cut by 55 for small company cars from 1 June.

    Your Views - Have your say on the Budget

Gordon Brown: Children's tax credit to replace married copule's allowance
BBC Social Affairs Correspondent Alison Holt reports on how the budget affects families
Gordon Brown: An integrated and seamless system of child support
BBC Housing Correspondent John Andrew reports on the removal of MIRAS
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