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NEWS Wednesday, 10 March, 1999, 17:51 GMT
You give Budget thumbs down
Contrary to the overwhelmingly positive newspaper headlines, BBC News Online users have given Gordon Brown's third Budget a huge thumbs down.

Hundreds of people e-mailed within hours of Mr Brown taking to his feet in the Commons. Even if good things were in store, the punters seemed unhappy.

"Why do all the tax increases (petrol, road tax, duty on tobacco etc) take effect immediately while all the reductions are at least 12 months away?" David Cropp asked.

But the reduction of the married couple's allowance (MCA) and the increase in family allowances drew the most fiery response.

"What is the incentive to get married? Won't there be more people in the country UNMARRIED WITH CHILDREN??? I think it is outrageous!" said Karen Tully from the UK.

Sarah Flett also had a few unanswered questions. "Why am I, a young married woman who has tried to sort herself financially before having a family, bothering?" she asked.

Sarah Sandersson had a different perspective. "My husband and I are unable to have children and feel even more punished than we did before.

"We don't mind losing our MCA to needy families but not to others. Perhaps he could help couples saving for in vitro fertilisation," she said.

The Budget may have even put one reader off marriage and left her predicting an increase in pregnancy rates.

"I was thinking of getting married next year, but have now decided it's not worth it. I love my partner, but financially what gain will there be? You are forced into having kids to get help," said Claire from England.

Those on middle incomes complained that their tax burden had been heavily increased by the reduction in MCA and removing the mortgage interest tax relief.

"The withdrawal of the married tax allowance and its replacement with a family tax credit that does not apply to higher rate taxpayers is grossly unfair to those who work hard to increase their families prosperity, and as such come to fall into the higher rate tax band," Stephen Weir said.

The hike in fuel prices alone drew a massive response, particularly from the rural community.

"Once again fuel prices have been hit," said Chris Norton from Lincolnshire.

"Many of us in rural communities require private cars to get to work. I myself have to travel 60 miles a day in a round trip to get to work and back. It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to use public transport in this area. What I would like to see is some kind of tax break to alleviate those who have no choice but to use private cars."

It seems motorists joined smokers in thinking "here we go again" after the Budget speech.

"As always the motorist is hit again and again. This will cause higher costs for people who have no choice but to use cars. Too much tax/duty is placed on petrol/diesel and not enough put back into the transport infrastructure of roads/rail and public transport," Mike Gipson wrote.

The government received a mixed response for its moves on information technology (IT).

Kai Hendry was positive. "At long last we are beginning to invest in IT. I do hope they realise that it isn't just schools that need a good network, it's the whole country."

Mark Dent was less certain that the measures would make a difference. "With regard to this extra money for IT in schools - we have had none since last year and of the 49,000 we needed we only got 7000. Cut the chat - let's have real money that will make a real difference."

Cheers to the chancellor

But in the mountain of negative e-mails there were a few happy voters.

"Great Budget, I'm delighted to see the pensioners get the increase in fuel allowance that they have been awarded. It also seems fair to small businesses and families. Most importantly it caters for those families who are not the stereotypical family unit," said Kerry Dugan.

Philip Wales was looking ahead. "I would like to thank the chancellor for not increasing tax on alcohol this side of the millennium, I for one will be taking full advantage of that on 31 December! Cheers!"

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