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Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 March, 2004, 13:41 GMT
At-a-glance: The Budget
Key points from Gordon Brown's eighth Budget, which was delivered in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

Taxes and duties

  • Tax rates will be frozen on: corporation tax, capital gains tax, air passenger duties, vehicle excise duty.

  • Stamp duty also frozen.

  • Betting duties also remain unchanged, but there will be a review of the tax treatment of betting exchanges.

  • Inheritance tax rates are frozen, with the starting point for the tax raised to 263,000.

  • Tax relief for small-budget British films will be transferred directly to the filmmakers to avoid third parties wrongly taking advantage of the measure.

  • Duty on pint of beer raised by 1p, and by 4p on wine, but frozen on spirits, cider and sparkling wine.

  • Tax on cigarettes up in line with inflation - 8p a packet.

  • Accountancy firms will have to register tax avoidance schemes with the Inland Revenue.

Council tax help

  • Pensioners aged 70 and over to get an extra 100 this year to help with their problems paying rising council tax bills.

Economic outlook

  • The chancellor opened his speech saying: "The purpose of this Budget is to lock in for Great Britain the economic stability that can and will endure."

  • The British economy grew by 2.3% in 2003, meeting Treasury forecasts.

  • The growth forecast remains at 3-3.5% for 2004 and 2005 and at 2.5-3% for 2006.

  • Claimant count unemployment was now at 2.9% on Wednesday's new figures - the lowest since 1973.

  • Manufacturing output is expected to grow by just under 2% this year and over 2% next year.


  • The deputy prime minister will consult on how to increase the supply and affordability of housing after Wednesday's Barker Review on homes' shortages.


  • The Treasury will review progress on joining the euro in the next Budget, but not now.


  • The government's fiscal rules have been met at every stage of the economic cycle, said Mr Brown.

  • The "golden rule" on balancing the books over the economic cycle will be met with a 11bn surplus.

  • The public sector borrowing for 2003/4 will be 37.5bn, falling to 23 billion by 2009.

Cutting bureaucracy

  • 20,000 civil servants to be moved out of Whitehall to the regions.

  • Department of Work and Pensions to lose more 30,000 staff over four years, with its Budget cut by more than 5% by 2008.

  • Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue to be merged.

  • All departments will cut back room administration budgets by at least 5% by 2008.

Public spending

  • In 2006-07 and 2007-08, current spending will rise by 2.5%, with the money allocated in this summer's spending review.

  • Mr Brown said he had already rejected calls to freeze the defence, Home Office and transport budgets. Both defence and transport would get real terms increases, he said.

  • UK-wide funding on education will rise to 77bn by 2007/8, up from 59bn this year. Spending per pupil in England rises by 1,000 to 5,500.

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