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Last Updated: Wednesday, 12 March 2008, 16:10 GMT
Cameron criticises 'dire' Budget
David Cameron
Mr Cameron was responding to Alistair Darling's first Budget

Conservative leader David Cameron has said the "cost of living is going up and Labour is making it worse".

He said the "facts" Alistair Darling's first Budget could not hide were high debt, high interest rates, high taxes and lower growth.

The government should help people when times were tough, instead it "kicks them when they are down," he said.

He called it "a dire list of reviews and reannouncements" and said borrowing figures in it were "truly dreadful".

Responding to the 50-minute Budget statement, the Conservative leader accused the chancellor and prime minister of living "in an entirely different world from everybody else".

Fiscal rules 'busted'

"For people, every time they refinance their mortgage, it's costing them more, every time they fill up their car they are paying more. Every time they shop, food bills are higher and yet every time they get a tax bill, they are paying more," he said.

"There was no recognition of that in this Budget. The cost of living is going up and Labour is making it worse."

This government and this prime minister took all the credit when the global economy was growing, but now there are difficulties they will not take any of the blame
David Cameron

He said the abolition of the 10p starting rate of tax would mean 5.3 million of the lowest paid workers - including soldiers, NHS staff and teaching assistants - would be worse off.

And he accused the chancellor of putting up taxes on people who create wealth, jobs and investment - through rises in capital gains tax, tax on family business and corporation tax.

Mr Cameron said the trade deficit was set to rise to a record 72bn while the rate of investment was "slumping" by two thirds and debt as a share of GDP, if Northern Rock was included, was 43.8%, which Mr Cameron said would "bust" the chancellor's fiscal rules.

'Disastrous start'

"High debt, high interest rates, high taxes -- and now lower growth. Those are the facts that this budget cannot hide," he said.

"They tell the story of just how badly prepared we are for the downturn."

In his first Budget as chancellor, Alistair Darling said the UK was entering an uncertain period better placed other any other major economy.

READ THE BUDGET IN FULL

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But he said turbulence in global financial markets had affected all economies and said the credit crunch posed a major risk to the world economy.

Mr Cameron said: "This government and this prime minister took all the credit when the global economy was growing, but now there are difficulties they will not take any of the blame."

He said Mr Darling had been "put in a hole by the prime minister" - his predecessor as chancellor, Gordon Brown.

And he pointed out that the US was cutting taxes by 1% of national income and Sweden had a 2% budget surplus to help them out.

"In Britain we have got nothing, no room for manoeuvre on the deficit, no room for manoeuvre on interest rates and no room for manoeuvre on taxes."

He added: "In the years of plenty they put nothing aside, they didn't fix the roof when the sun was shining."

He said a Conservative government would pay green taxes into a family fund to help Britain's "hard-pressed families".

He also pledged to cut the headline rate of capital gains tax and would target binge drinkers with tax rises "not every responsible drinker in this country who wants a glass of wine or a pint of beer at the end of a hard day's work".



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