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Last Updated: Monday, 15 December, 2003, 09:35 GMT
Chancellor's pre-Budget report: Your reaction
Gordon Brown has presented his pre-Budget statement for 2003 to the nation.

The chancellor delivered an upbeat view of the economy but admitted that the UK will have to borrow 10bn more than originally predicated in April.

He also revealed that the measure of inflation would be switched from the Retail Price Index to the Harmonised Consumer Price Index which is used by the EU.

Mr Brown also announced a series of measures aimed at widening childcare provision and bringing more young people out of poverty.

What did you think of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received:

I know the UK economy is buoyant, I know the chancellor is borrowing significant sums to balance the books... What I don't know is where the money is going.
Paul, Belgium (Expat)

It sounds to me like an election gimmick
J B Lear, Witham
It sounds to me like an election gimmick. All about child care and nothing about pensioners, their poverty and the poor state of care homes. Today's papers predict an increase of over 8% in council tax next year.
J B Lear, Witham

There is no viable option for our country other than to support Gordon Brown's spending programme. This government has at least stopped the rot and begun to clear up the devastation of four terms of the Tories. Does anyone really think that the country could take another bout of that?
Robert Crosby, Nottingham, UK

When people praise redistribution so highly, let it be remembered that a lot of what the low paid get back is money taken from them in income tax and national insurance in the first place because the starting point for tax and NIC is so low.
Brian W, Chelmsford, UK

With reference to Mr Brown's increase in borrowing by a further 10 billion, resulting in an approximate deficit of 47 billion. Please justify how a man who is in financial control of the countries biggest company i.e. Great Briton UK Plc has still got a job at all? Any other person would have been dismissed billions of pounds ago!
Martin Spencer, Telford

What a lot of mean-spirited and selfish people there are out there. The corollary of their argument is that many children would be living in poverty and misery - as they were in the 1980s. Gordon Brown is a redistributive Chancellor, giving us the best economy in Europe and dishing out some of the proceeds to prevent hardship. The Tory alternative may mean lower taxes - for those lucky enough to have a job. Many jobs have been gained under Gordon Brown's policies - one of them could be yours. Think about that before complaining.
Andrew, Burnley, UK

There is far to much waste on so-called management consultants and sundry spivs. Taxes are already too high, but at least he is going to do something with the lunatic "planning" system that has made housing unaffordable in the UK - preferably take an axe to it! The Barker report that accompanied the statement was a breath of fresh air!
Mark, Hitchin, UK

I know of people who will be entitled to more child tax credits and they will be used as spending money on their next annual holiday!
Susan, UK

I'm annoyed that people without kids seem to think they are the only ones paying tax! My husband and I have two children and we will not be better off under the new proposals, however I know of people who will be entitled to more child tax credits and they will be used as spending money on their next annual holiday! This does need to be addressed at the next budget.
Susan, UK

If I had to ask for a loan that Mr Brown will be asking for, I'd be having sleepless nights. Sleep well Gordon!
MH, Hinckley

Great, so now childcare is going to cost me more than it does already. Mr Brown is pricing people like me out of the UK job market. Fortunately, I can always emigrate and thus earn more and have a lower cost of living. Its getting to the stage where the majority of graduates will be better off abroad than here - surely this is crazy!
Sarah, Cambridge

The economy faces a good many challenges but Gordon Brown is the best chancellor we've had in decades. At least he can think beyond the next election, unlike his Tory predecessors. No room whatsoever for complacency but I believe he's striking the best balance possible.
Ron, UK

If I'd been that far out on my budget estimate, I'd have been fired.
Scott, UK

Those in glass houses should not throw stones
Peter, Plymouth

Ironic really isn't it. In the same week as Mr Brown expresses criticism about the mounting burden of debt on families, he is quite happy to burden the tax payer with ever increasing levels of public debt. So, who is more prudent? Is it Joe Public who borrows to buy a better house or a new car? Or is it a Chancellor who borrows to fund increasingly bureaucratic and wasteful Government Departments. Those in glass houses should not throw stones.
Peter, Plymouth

Why give tax credits to families earning upwards of 50,000 a year to look after their children! Don't pensioners struggling by on 71.50 a week deserve recognition for their efforts in building up this country so that these young families have the benefit of their hard graft through the 30s, 40s and 50s? Come on Brown look after those who rebuilt this country after the war.
John, Birmingham

Many of the responses on this page seem unbelievably selfish, along the lines of "what's in it for me?" I take heart from a news headline published on the BBC website earlier today (and very quickly consigned to the archive): "UK moving up poverty league" with experts noting "real progress" by the government. Credit where credit is due.
Noel, London

He should have scrapped Child Benefit. If you choose to have a child, pay for it. It is utterly immoral to expect anyone else to have to go out to work and pay for another's choice to have children.
Joe, UK

Joe, UK, misses the point about kids. You need to encourage people to have kids otherwise there will be no-one around to prop up your pension scheme. I know you pay your own way and you save for the future, but please bear in mind that without customers and workers in 30 years time the company that has promised to pay you a pension will be gone.
Rick Hough, Knutsford, Cheshire

10 billion more than planned? Unacceptable. Even a banana republic like South Africa does better than that. Perhaps Mr Brown should go for lessons with Trevor Manuel (the South African Minister of Finance) to learn how to spend frugally. Disgraceful!
Stefan, London

Let me see, I work my way up from being a student, get taxed more to help public services? Pay for my own pension, have private health care yet even though I use less I am expected to pay more, we are paying through our noses for a war we didn't want, and paying for asylum for umpteen thousands of people, why don't we all just become unemployed, have kids and get more money. Why should those who have worked blooming hard to earn a great wage be penalised for it?
Jo, Aberdeen

If you want good public services you have to pay for them
Gwilym, London

Good grief! What a bunch of moaning, mean spirited people the British are! The simple fact is if you want good public services you have to pay for them. If you want European levels of public transport, health service, social services etc. you have to pay European levels of tax (which are on average are a lot higher than here). I agree that there are definite savings that can be made by better management but in the end you get what you pay for. I don't agree with many things the government has done but the increase in finance for the public sector is a welcome change from the penny pinching of previous governments.
Gwilym, London

Once again, we are being asked to subsidise other people's lifestyle. Having children is a matter of choice, not right. I am not expected to pay for your car, satellite television or holiday in Florida - why expect me to pay for your children?
Philip, Southend-on-Sea

My mate's father died at home today, because there was no hospice place for him. Around the corner, an elderly lady, living in sheltered accommodation was murdered last week. Now Gordon, you show me how your taxing has benefited my community?
Ian, Birkenhead

Allowing couples with children to file tax returns together so that single income families can benefit from both tax-free allowances. It is hard enough to raise children on two incomes and is becoming impossible on a single income which reduces each year as more tax is taken from it.
David, Frinton

Simplification of the tax system is would save huge amounts of cash. Combine everything into income tax - it is after all the fairest tax we have - the greater your ability to pay - the more you pay - simple!
Lee, Stevenage

Why why why do I ALWAYS come out of a budget worse off?
Karl, Northants, UK
Why why why do I ALWAYS come out of a budget worse off? I don't smoke, I'm reasonably fit, I own my own home and car and have two children. Mr Brown, what the hell are you wasting my money on? Stop giving it away to those who refuse to work for a start, and get rid of middle management in money eating monsters such as the NHS.
Karl, Northants, UK

I like to think I am a compassionate and charitable person. However, like Karl, I am tired of my husband and I having to work hard to maintain a standard of living that others on a lot less income (and therefore a lot less responsibility at work) are maintaining with tax credits and other forms of supplementary income from the state.

I have three children and have financially shot myself in the foot by getting an education and a decent job. New Labour has done little for the middle income households - these are not the previous 'middle classes', they are hardworking individuals who have sufficient drive and determination to not want to be supported by the state.
Lesley-Anne, UK

There would be no need for any further tax rises if this wretched government stopped wasting our money and stopped paying people to do nothing.
Philip Cleveland, UK

Perhaps if the 6bn or so the chancellor and the government have so far on a fruitless war, then perhaps we might have seen more value for our money, i.e. better services etc. This government is just full of spin. Say one thing, do another, and then shamelessly at the end of the day do what you promised you wouldn't do/or wouldn't happen.
John, Aberdeen

If the European harmonised rate of inflation is to be adopted, it seems likely that the published rate of inflation will reduce. Since, most pay rises are linked in some way to inflation, it seems to be a sensible conclusion that pay packets won't grow as quickly, which will also mean lower than forecast tax revenues. This may result in a need to increase taxation - so the future seems to be lower pay and higher taxation, doesn't it?
Phil Hughes, Selby

No room whatsoever for complacency but I believe he's striking the best balance possible
Ron, UK
The economy faces a good many challenges but Gordon Brown is the best chancellor we've had in decades. At least he can think beyond the next election, unlike his Tory predecessors. No room whatsoever for complacency but I believe he's striking the best balance possible.
Ron, UK

Why not means-test Child Benefit and restrict it to those who need it i.e. those on below-average wages? Why should middle-class people who choose to have children be subsidised by other tax payers?
Glyn Perrens, Christchurch

I work in manufacturing and the support the government has offered is a disgrace. Talk is cheap it's time real action was taken to save some of the tens of thousands of jobs that have been lost.
Andrew, Glasgow, UK

Brilliant! So because my wife has taken the courageous decision to give up her promising career to care for our young baby at home, rather than leave her in "registered childcare", we don't qualify for any of his extra tax relief and will continue to struggle to pay the mortgage whilst our taxes continue to climb.
Gareth, Newbury

37 Billion borrowed, and most of it wasted. Three issues could have halved the costs. 1. Let's have a national debate about what care should be free on the NHS. 2. When two million people march to say no to a war, why should they pay the 6 billion for it? 3. The combined issues affecting the elderly need addressing. A cross party system incorporating enforced ring-fencing of money for care and pensions in old age is essential to rebuild the public's trust in pensions.
Haydn Latham, Stafford

So Gordon Brown was 10 Billion out on his forecast. Is it just me or does that sound like a big chunk of change? Will that 10bn eventually translate to tax rises?
Mark J, Birmingham

He could have made his speech much shorter. "Tax, borrow and spend" - that about sums it all up.
David Howe, Chelmsford

Nothing Mr Brown announces ever helps the average working woman or man
Andrea, London
The Government is continuing to treat the electorate as a cash cow. Nothing Mr Brown announces ever helps the average working woman or man. It is all geared toward taking from the workers to give to the lazy.
Andrea, London

Despite Gordon Brown's confidence, I just can't shake off the feeling that the Government is slowly losing its grip on the nation's finances, having to pedal ever more furiously to prevent the economy from being carried completely away from all the Chancellor's targets - such as the level of borrowing, which strikes me as increasingly frightening
Paul, London, UK

The service sector is propping up the UK economy - and is starting to be outsourced to India and China. Action needs to be taken to stimulate the rest of the economy before it's too late for UK plc.
Paul, Swindon, UK

I am concerned about the change in measuring inflation from RPI to the harmonised EU index. If this is a lower figure, then pension providers should not be allowed to reduce inflation proofing payments. These are currently based on RPI.
Peter Child, Rugby

Why not some kind of tax incentive to manufacturing? I believe that one of the reasons for our current financial predicament is that Britain started to move away from supporting our manufacturing base to the service industry. Now that service industry, especially IT and the financial services are in trouble and call centres are moving abroad we are purely relying on the loans that consumers take to prop the economy up.
Carl, London

I would like the Chancellor to help out first time buyers
Luke, Grays, UK
I would like the Chancellor to help out first time buyers. My partner and I both work full-time and are still unable to get even a flat in our area. Perhaps by relieving stamp duty for first-time buyers under 150K would help us.
Luke, Grays, UK

I am not a high earner, but an ever increasing proportion of my salary in lost in taxes, both direct and indirect. It has got to the point where getting into debt is the only way for me to fund, for example, college for my son. And where has all this tax money gone? It has been poured down the drain into a sewer of bureaucratic over-regulation, welfare benefits for the feckless and worsening public services. Enough is enough.
David, England

Reading your contributors comments it is clear that a vast majority expect to pay less tax but at the same time demand more and better services to be provided - you can't have both. It may be an old mantra but you cannot expect 20 years of underinvestment by a Conservative government to be sorted out in 6 years! Stop complaining and thank your lucky stars that you live in a country where a long term illness does not result in bankruptcy as it often does in that great capitalist icon the USA!
Iain Monaghan, Brighton

I would like to see a commitment to reduce both bureaucracy and taxation. An acknowledgement by Gordon Brown that there is actually no such thing as "government money", only taxpayers' money.
David Moran, Scotland/Australia

I would like to see the Chancellor tackle buy to let housing. How many people now own more than one home? That's stopping first time buyers more than a shortage of house building. I live on a new estate, out of a row of 12 new houses 3 are to-let, that I know of. Multiply that statistic across the country and that's where the problem lies.
Richard Fordham, England

Capital Gains Tax on individual housing profits would restore sense to housing market and help 'affordable' housing.
Jim Ritson, Great Britain

Gordon needs to return to his Socialist roots and introduce a 50% (at least) top rate of tax for those earning over 80,000. Also need pensions linked to average earnings once more, a ghost of Thatcher that needs to be exorcised once and for all
Sam Russell, Canterbury, UK

Call me selfish but I earn my money and would like to see more of it for me to make decisions with
Marc, UK

I have a good job and by many people am probably considered a good earner. I pay my mortgage, save some, invest some and sometimes even shock horror spend some on myself. What I am not expecting back from the budget is a "hey you work hard for your money, have a little more back after all you earned it". I have never really had anything from the government except my tuition fees paid. I might earn well but like many good earners I worked my way up to this level and only now have begun to have even some money to myself. Call me selfish but I earn my money and would like to see more of it for me to make decisions with not for Brown et al to throw around.
Marc, UK

The level of public spending is rapidly approaching 50% of the nation's income. Put another way, everyone employed in private enterprise is keeping himself and a public sector worker. Gordon, we can't afford that. That's why tax revenues aren't increasing at the rate you think you can decree. The game is up!
Neil, UK

A fairer tax on self employed. So many get away with paying so little compared with the PAYE employed
Richard Davie, Scotland

I don't need to bother with the budget because the bottom line is I'll be a few quid worse off than before, the same as every other budget.
Chris Boyle, Wales

Huge increases have gone into the NHS and education budgets, and the result has been longer NHS queues and inflated A-level grades. So what do people want - why, more taxes. When are the people who carry on about "proper funding" going to realise that improved services require improved management. More funding without tighter management gets you absolutely nowhere.
Jon Livesey, USA

Does it really matter? Every year it is the same no matter which party is in power. The middle class is always the one to foot the bill of funding the country.
Stephen, Wales

What does it mean for me? - Nothing - I got out in '97 when Labour came to power when Brown was preparing his tax and spend bonanza.
Edwin, UK/Romania

When will people realise that 'fair' taxation is not increasing the rates of higher earners. It is the economics of spite
Duncan, UK
To the financially illiterate amongst the contributors here - it is not just call centre jobs that can be taken offshore. Finance houses are not inextricably wedded to the UK, they can still run international finance from any country in the world. So if you want the city 'fat cats' to walk just keep up your proposals to increase taxes on higher earners and you will get umpteen percent of nothing.
When will people realise that 'fair' taxation is not increasing the rates off higher earners. It is the economics of spite and will take us back to the dark ages of the 70's.
Duncan, UK

More tax is needed to pay for our illegal wars. The tax budget 'books' should be published fully on the internet so we can see where 'all' the money we are robbed off goes. Only fully open-government equals democracy, anything else is a dictatorship.
Colin Harrison, England

Restore the pensions link with earnings and stop this stupid means tested benefits, and regulate income through the Inland Revenue, like working people
DC Waller, Wales

How about cutting the useless quangos at Government, disposing of red tape and reforming local government. Then use the money saved to provide decent public services, and if there is any money left over, why not abolish tuition fees?
John Harding, Lancaster, UK

Its pretty clear that the average person is living well above their means - Encouraged by a Government that will soon be forced to raise interest rates and taxes and leaves millions in a disastrous debt trap
Colin Bond, England

Stop wasting money on so called outreach co-ordinators and pen pushers and paperclip movers and spend it where it is most needed i.e. nurses, doctors etc. Stop giving money to pensioners with one hand and taking more away with the other, for instance Council tax. And sort out John Prescott, he's been a disaster in every department he's been in.
J Penney, England

Tax simplification seems well-supported here. How about taking the ultimate step - just 2 taxes; Income and VAT. Scrap the rest - all of them. Adjust tax levels to compensate for all the others. Just think of the stupendous cost saving of no more employment tax (NI), 2nd income tax (employees NI), fuel tax, alcohol tax, council tax, house buying tax (stamp duty), tax tax (e.g. vat on fuel tax), insurance tax, health-premium tax (for gods sake) and all the other taxes whose processing sucks the life out of tax payers.
Tony, UK

Tax? Tax?
Please sir can I have some more?!!
Graham, UK

I earn 5000 more then I did in 2000 yet I end up 30 a month worse off before council tax is included! The report will confirm what I believe, I'm about to get stuffed again. New Labour, old policies.
Stuart Blair, UK

Tax incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health. Throwing ever more money into the NHS is doing nothing for the nation's health.
SA, UK

How about making all childcare tax deductible?
Karen, UK
As someone about to have a second child and facing childcare bills of over 1000 a month, how about making all childcare tax deductible? After all, it's a business expense - I only incur the cost because I work and hence only continue to be a taxpayer because I shell out for childcare. Please take note Mr Brown!
Karen, UK

It seems that the Chancellor is keen to try to sell us the idea of fixed rate mortgages. Whilst the rational behind this seems sensible, it smacks a little of closing the stable door once the horse has bolted. Who in their right mind would take out a fixed rate mortgage on today's astronomical house prices, where low interest rates have already priced themselves into the (exorbitantly high) value?
Martin, UK

Tax incentives to encourage personal responsibility for health. Throwing ever more money into the NHS is doing nothing for the nation's health.
SA, UK

Who in their right mind is going to pay 600 a month for a 100k fixed rate mortgage over 25 years when they can pay as little as 250 for the same loan on a shorter variable rate. This is yet another example of how the government wants to interfere with people's lives.
C. Beaven, UK

When oh when, will Gordon Brown do something for the many who have worked all their lives and who have to look after a loved one? The carers get a very bad deal from this Labour government.
Pete, UK

I just wish they'd drop the red tape. Tell us how much tax you need - we have no choice but to pay it. I'd also like to see a receipt indicating how it's really been spent.
Russ, UK

Let's see the whole system simplified
Brendan MacLean, Birmingham, UK
Income tax should be set at a level that allows us to actually fund the services we pay for. Council tax and national insurance should be abolished and the shortfall added to income tax. Let's see the whole system simplified. Tax cuts have no value if the result is service cuts.
Brendan MacLean, Birmingham, UK

I'd like to lower taxes which would be paid for by the disbanding of the multitude of quangos that soak up so much public money and give so little in return.
Paul, UK

Cutbacks. Cut bureaucracy, cut quangos, cut government sponsored junkets, cut luxury limousines, cut ministerial entertainment budgets and luncheons, and finally, cut tax, with all the money we've saved!
Rob Holman, Chislehurst, Kent, England

Let's get rid of the road fund licence and put the tax on petrol. It would help to get rid of the annual 'turn your house upside down trying to find the MOT and insurance' syndrome just to buy a piece of paper. Why should a pensioner pay the same to use their car once a week, as the rep hammering up and down the motorway everyday? It doesn't make sense.
Terry Watson, UK

How about merging the current 36 NHS regulators into 1, cut all the red-tape associated with target-meeting paperwork and pump the funds into the front-line rather than the bureaucrats' offices. I would like to see business taxes cut to encourage entrepreneurship and higher tax breaks for R&D nearer the 10% in Europe up from the UK's 3.5%. How about merging National Insurance with income tax to further reduce administration costs? Just a thought Gordon!
Harry, UK

Blocking tax loopholes that are exploited by the wealthy
John C, Bath, England
An end to rip off PFIs, National Insurance thresholds scrapped, funds raised by way of one-off tax on higher earners to re-nationalise public transport, tax grab on companies exporting jobs to the Third World, blocking tax loopholes that are exploited by the wealthy, and a hint that Blair will finally resign.
John C, Bath, England

I propose increased tax - for anyone who complains about taxation!
Neil, UK

Some tax relief for savers would be a good idea. The government want us to save more but does little to encourage us. It's hardly surprising that a lot of people take the view that you might as well spend it while you have it.
Al, UK

Provide tax incentives for the development of Brownfield sites for housing to encourage further sustainable housing development. At the same time levy tax on the use of Greenfield sites.
JW, UK

Tax incentives to commuters who use public transport
Al, UK
I would like to see the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings, tax incentives to commuters who use public transport (rather than just milking the motorist who may not have a choice about how he commutes), and some tax penalties to companies who employ off-shore staff, such as call centres
Al, UK

Just where has all the extra tax money taken from us for improved public services gone? I can't honestly think of any public service that I have encountered where there has been an improvement in the last 5 years.
Kev, UK

It won't happen but there are to things that I would like to hear him say. The first is that he will stop raiding all the pension funds for his 5bn per annum as this currently means that "ordinary" workers are penalised for prudent saving. The second thing would be say that joining the euro is a non-starter whilst the French and Germans keep breaking the rules that they themselves initiated.
Richard, UK

I'd like to see incentive rewarded. I work hard to make a little go a long way, and I wish the government would stop bashing me down. They treat me like a high earner because the tax bands haven't moved with the cost of living.
Annie, UK

Money to keep old peoples homes open and proper funding for those who have paid their dues and now deserve decent treatment in old age.
Jim Rose, England

How about a simplification in the absurdly complex taxation system? This will be cheaper to administer so for once those of us who pay five figures in direct tax each year can get a reduction instead of paying more and receiving less. We could also see a restructuring of public services since it is now abundantly clear that simply throwing more money into the bottomless pit is achieving nothing other than even less value for money.
John B, UK

What would be nice is a lower rate of interest on mortgages and lower stamp duty rates for first time buyers. Also, as the Lib Dems propose, taking an extra tax off those earning over 100,000 per year, e.g. 5. Just this small deduction would raise something like 30b and then that money could be distributed to needy areas, e.g. health, security and education.
Victoria, Staffs, UK




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