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Thursday, 8 March, 2001, 10:21 GMT
What the Budget means for me

Working families and the elderly were tipped to be the big winners in the Budget. Here, parents and pensioners weigh up what Gordon Brown has offered them.

The Budget proved to be a mixed bag for the people who spoke to BBC News Online.

What they receive in one hand, perhaps in the form of a working families tax credit, they say they lose from the other.

"I'm up and down," says Richard Peattie, 30, of Portsmouth, a single father to three-year-old Jordan.

At a glance...for parents
Child and working families tax credit boosted
20 a week baby bonus
Maternity pay up from 60 to 100 a week by 2003
Maternity leave up from 18 to 26 weeks
Two weeks paid paternity leave
Formerly a tree surgeon earning 50 a day, he is now a self-employed sales representative.

"The increase in the working family tax credit [up 5 to a weekly income of 219] is great, but I still feel trapped in a low-paying job. If I earn just over that, I lose about 100 a week in benefits."

Instead, he would have preferred benefits to taper off as earnings rise.

"And I'm a smoker, so I'll be paying out about 50p a week more."

Emily Pountney
Emily Pountney: "I'm really happy"
Emily Pountney, 33, of Portsmouth, a teacher expecting her first child next week, got pretty much what she had hoped for.

"What with the new-born tax bonus, child benefit, and paternity leave, I'm really happy."

Her partner, a graphic designer, earns less than 18,000 a year.

"This Budget has lots of good news for people starting a family. Will I have another child? Definitely, now."

Ruth Clifford, 34, of Wigan, Lancashire and her company director husband have two children, aged seven and one.

"None of the 'family friendly' announcements affect us directly as we're above the income threshold for the benefits - except the [10 a week] child benefit.

"But it's great that the needs of women and children are now being recognised," Mrs Clifford says.

And the introduction of two weeks' paid leave for new fathers is long overdue, she says.

"When my son was born, I had a Caesarean and my husband had to use his leave up to look after me. So during that first year, when you want as much time together as possible, he had no leave left."

Tony Carter
Tony Carter: Better off, but not by much
But Tony Carter, 75, of Bromley, Kent was disappointed that the Chancellor did not boost the basic state pension by more than the 5 a week - 8 for couples - increase announced in November.

"And why it's not equally sensible to link pensions to earnings now they plan to link tax allowances to earnings is beyond me.

"But I should be better off because of the increase in the 10% tax band."

Markie Wright, 75, of Twickenham, west London had also hoped for more in her pension packet.

At a glance...for pensioners
State pensions up 5, or 8 for couples
Minimum weekly income up from 78.45 (121.95 for couples) to 92.15 (140.55)
200 winter fuel payment, free TV licence for over-75s and Christmas bonus retained
"Everything is going up. I paid out 90 for a pair of glasses recently, and that's more than I get to live on a week."

Because she has almost 6,000 in savings - the new threshold, up from 3,000 - Mrs Wright misses out receiving a top-up under the pensioner income support allowance.

Nor is she impressed by the pensioner tax allowance, due to be introduced in 2003.

"I don't want anything that's going to come in in two or three years time - I'll be 78 then, if I'm here at all.

"I've always voted Conservative and there's nothing here to persuade me otherwise."

Read more views, and add your own, by joining the Talking Point discussion.

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