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Tuesday, November 9, 1999 Published at 15:50 GMT

UK Politics

Pre-Budget Report: At a glance

Pre-Budget Statement
Chancellor Gordon Brown has outlined his key objectives and spending plans for the future in his pre-Budget report. The main points are:

Forecasts and aims

  • Treasury estimates UK growth for 1999 will be 1.75%
  • Growth in 2000 forecast to be 2.5%-3% and 2.25%-2.75% in 2001 and 2002
  • Budget surplus for this financial year forecast at 9.5bn
  • Britain on course to balance the current budget over the current economic cycle
  • The chancellor said Britain would have a new economic ambition - a faster rise in productivity than its main competitors as it closes the productivity gap
  • The government will aim to get a higher percentage of people in work than ever before
  • It will also try to get people to gain the highest education qualification that they can with the majority of school leavers going on to degrees
  • The government repaid debt of 2.5bn in the year ending March 1999 - this year it expects to repay 3.5bn.

Young and old

  • All pensioners over 75 will receive their television licence free of charge from next autumn
  • The 100 winter allowance for pensioners will be paid again this year and every year from now on
  • A new fund to tackle child poverty.

Taxation and the environment

  • The fixed 6% fuel tax escalator to be scrapped and replaced with "budget by budget" decisions on duty increases
  • Any future rises in fuel tax will be lower than the escalator and revenues to go to a ring-fenced fund to modernise roads and public transport
  • The Climate Change Levy to be reduced from 1.7bn to 1bn
  • All the revenues form the levy to be recycled to business with every business enjoying a 0.3% cut in employers' National Insurance contributions
  • Environmental pollution in the UK to be cut by 2m tonnes a year by 2010
  • A 100% investment allowance to companies moving from environmentally unfriendly industries to environmentally friendly ones and 150m to support energy efficiency schemes
  • A crackdown on tobacco smuggling, including new scanners at airports and higher fines
  • Extra revenues from a 5% real-term rise in cigarette duties to go the NHS, worth 300m a year from next April
  • The government will contribute 28p for every 1 donated to charity, rising to 50p in the pound for payroll donations.

Employment and education

  • A national jobs phoneline offering information about current vacancies.
  • A new enterprise development fund, cash help and new business scholarships to help the long-term unemployed start their own businesses
  • A "crackdown on the hidden economy" with an investigation led by a QC and involving the Treasury, Inland Revenue, and Customs and Excise to target benefit fraud and to consider if claimants should have to sign on every day
  • The number entrepreneurship courses in schools to be doubled to 200,000, information technology college places to be increased by 50,000
  • A trebling of the number of schools to be modernised through the windfall levy to a total of 15,000 by the year 2001- about half of Britain's schools
  • New Deal programmes to help the young unemployed find work will be extended to the over-25s in every part of Britain.

Encouraging enterprise

  • Capital gains tax for investments lasting more than three years will be 22%, subject to consultation; for five-year investments the rate will be 10%
  • A 100m package of tax relief to encourage large firms to invest in new firms
  • New incentives for small businesses, including a new enterprise grant and enterprise incentives for managers
  • New regional venture capital firms to be set up through existing regional development agencies and Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland devolved bodies
  • Planning system to be reformed to promote competition and high-tech clusters of industries.

Employee share ownership

  • From next April, workers will be able to receive shares in their own companies worth up to 3,000 free of income tax, a tax saving of up to 1,200
  • Employees will also be able to buy 1,500 of additional shares from their pre-tax salary, a saving of up to 600. Employers will be able to award an additional 3,000 of shares, a saving of up to 1,200
  • Shares held by employees for five years will be exempt from income tax and capital gains tax.

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