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EDITIONS
Budget2000 Tuesday, 21 March, 2000, 23:04 GMT
Health billions top Budget
Gordon Brown on the steps of 11 Downing Street
Gordon Brown: "A Budget to unite Britain"
Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown has announced a 2bn spending boost for the NHS in a Budget targeting health, education, the elderly and e-commerce.

To cheers from Labour MPs, Mr Brown pledged to use his fourth Budget to unlock savings and deliver a package that would "unite the whole country" in "a Budget for all the people".
Budget Basics
Vehicle fuel up 2p
Spirit duty frozen
Pint of beer up 1p
Bottle of wine up 4p
Packet of 20 cigarettes up 25p
Announcing "radical reform" to business taxation, the chancellor said that his reforms would allow the UK to "meet and master a tide of technological change" and lead the way into the e-commerce future.

Responding to the Budget, Conservative leader William Hague said that the "stealth tax" chancellor was like a mugger who asked for thanks.

NHS spending

For the NHS, Mr Brown said that spending increases meant that by 2004 the nation would be spending 2,800 per household on the service.

He said that he would be increasing additional NHS funding of 2.9bn to 4bn with immediate effect - meaning that hospitals would be able to prepare to employ 10,000 new nurses.

We are determined to maintain our disciplined approach, determined not to make the old British mistakes of paying ourselves too much today at the cost of higher interest rates and fewer jobs tomorrow.

Gordon Brown
"This is new money that we can provide because we have made our choice," said Mr Brown.

"A Budget that unites the whole country, a Budget for the people."

For education, Mr Brown said that from April there would be additional investment of 1bn.

Announcing spending "straight to the classroom", the chancellor said that 18,000 primary schools would get between 3,000 and 9,000 for literacy and numeracy while secondary schools would get between 30,000 and 50,000 each.

E-commerce

Mr Brown began his speech with business, saying that he wanted to lead the UK into the technology-driven economy.

Mr Brown said that companies seeking to get online or move into e-commerce over the next three years would be able to write off 100% of the costs for new equipment against tax.

"With the lowest corporate tax rates for businesses ever and the lowest ever capital gains tax rates for long term investors, Britain is now the place for companies to start, to invest, to grow and to expand."

Welfare reform

Mr Brown said that he would continue to create a "ladder of opportunity" out of poverty and into employment.

He confirmed that he would extend the New Deal scheme for the long-term unemployed to older workers and through the working families tax credit raise minimum family income from 200 to 214 a week next April.

The Department for Trade and Industry would also review maternity pay and paternity leave legislation to help families, he said.

Turning to pensioners, Mr Brown promised a pensioners' credit system to "lift them out of poverty" which would be implemented after the next General Election.

The winter allowance for pensioners would be increased by 50 to 150 and the limit on pensioners' savings above which they cannot claim income support would be raised to 12,000.

"Taking these measures together, by April next year one million pensioners will be, compared with 1997, 20 a week, 1,000 a year better off," said Mr Brown.

Other developments include a consultation on reforming betting duty to take into account online gambling and the effects of bookmakers moving offshore.

In a reform of air passenger duty, there would be a cut from 10 to 5 on economy flights to much of Europe next April - and the tax would be abolished on flights from airports in the Scottish Highlands and Islands.

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The BBC's Robin Oakley reports
"Labour MPs loved it"

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21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
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21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
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21 Mar 00 | Budget2000
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