Page last updated at 13:17 GMT, Wednesday, 22 April 2009 14:17 UK

The Budget: Your questions

Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling

What questions did the Budget raise for you?

BBC News online put a number of your questions to a panel of experts.

The panel, comprising tax expert John Whiting, from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Christine Ross, group head of financial planning at SG Hambros and pensions expert Malcolm McLean, chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service, answered many of your questions. Here are some of them:

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

My fiancé and I have been trying to find a mortgage for our first home with not much luck. Our estimated monthly repayment is sky high, as well as our deposit, which is an impossible figure for two twenty-somethings to ever have saved. All this on a relatively low price for a house in the first place. Will the budget make this situation any easier for first time buyers?
Marie-Clare Kelly, Glasgow, Scotland

Christine Ross

Christine Ross:

The chancellor has announced the continuation of the shared ownership scheme. This offers the ability for purchasers to buy a percentage of the property at the outset, and usually to pay rent on the remainder - with an option to buy the rest at a future date. You may wish to approach housing associations who participate in this type of arrangement.


I will be retiring November 2010. As at 30 April 2009 I will be redundant. I am extremely concerned about my state pension. I feel as if I won't have anything to live on when I officially retire. There are far too many on state handouts and I feel very angry that I have worked all my adult life and won't be able to live to an acceptable standard in my grey years. This is such a worry and concern to me. What can you do or say to help ease my worries?
Moira Beattie , Erdington, Birmingham

Malcolm McLean, The Pensions Advisory Service

Malcolm McLean:

If you don't know the level of the state pension you will get when you get to your state pension age you should ask the Pension Service for a forecast. It may help you to know that after 6 April 2010 you will only need 30 national insurance qualifying years to get the full rate of the pension, not 44 as at the moment.


If 1% of pensioners with pensions worth more than £100,000 represents 25% of the tax relief, why wait two years to tax them proportionately? When will it be fully implemented? Simon Clifford, Finchley, London

John Whiting

John Whiting:

Tax relief for pensions contributions has been a feature of the tax system since the start to encourage savings and generate money to invest. Bear in mind that pensions savings drive a huge proportion of investment in business. One reason for the delay in the changes is clearly the complexity of the measures announced.


I have £20,000 to invest from a fixed rate savings account that has just matured. I need to invest the money in something that is secure and going to give the highest returns in 12 months. Can you advise me how I should invest this money?
Paul Ward, Cumbernauld, Scotland

Christine Ross

Christine Ross:

As you need your returns to be secure, I would really only recommend you invest in a cash deposit account. There are still plenty of savings accounts that pay above the bank base rate. You can compare rates at www.moneyfacts.co.uk. If you are willing to operate your account via the internet or by post you may achieve a higher interest rate compared with a branch based account. As long as your savings with any single institution are no greater than £50,000 you will be fully protected in the event that a bank or building society fails.


What will be the effect on pensions contributions tax relief for earners in the £60,000 to £120,000 range?
Chris Beddoes, Brussels, Belgium

Malcolm McLean, The Pensions Advisory Service

Malcolm McLean:

None as far as I can deduce from the chancellor's statement in the House today. He said higher tax relief would be cut from April 2011 only for those with a taxable income of £150,000 or more a year. We await further details as how this will be implemented in practice.


Is there any change to the amount of tax free lump sum someone can "commute" from their pension fund?
James Crawford, Croy, Inverness

John Whiting

John Whiting:

No sign of that so we have to assume it stays at the standard 25%.


My husband I both have company pensions. We are 27 and 32 years old respectively, how has the current climate affected our pensions? We also have a property that we bought and let out, which is supposed to add to our pension pot, is it worth keeping or should we sell and invest our money elsewhere?
Margaret, Glasgow, Scotland

Malcolm McLean, The Pensions Advisory Service

Malcolm McLean:

If you are fortunate to have access to a company pension arrangement you should stick with it, even if the value of your pension pot may have dropped in value in recent months. At your age you will have plenty of time for the fund to recover as the stock market comes back as it inevitably will do over time. The real value of a company scheme is that your employer as well as yourself will be contributing and the government will be giving you tax relief on your contributions as well.

The decision whether to sell or keep your property has to be a personal one. But property values are down at the present time, but are showing some signs of recovery.


Both my husband and I work for the same company in the construction industry. We predominately build social housing and are finding that the RSL's we work for are having their funding withdrawn. The upshot will be a lack of housing for the people who need it most. How will the government help? The situation has become critical.
Lorraine Lane, Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire

Christine Ross

Christine Ross:

It is predicted that the Budget will include an extension of the package to restart the housing market. It is widely expected that there will be an extension to the temporary rise in the threshold for stamp duty (purchases of properties for less than £175,000 currently are exempt from stamp duty).


Can you tell me if the rise in tax for higher earners is 50% from anything earned over £150,000 or the whole of the earnings? Anthony Bennett, Bedford

John Whiting

John Whiting:

Don't panic. It's on incomes above £150,000 - so just on that element of the income, not the whole amount!





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