Alistair Darling has delivered his budget. Apologies if you werent aware who Darling is, or that there was a budget. Here's a brief summary.
Prices of cigarettes and alcohol will be up tomorrow. According to one journalist, this means a line of cocaine will be cheaper than half a pint of cider . Tim Worstal fact checks him. In 2009 the child benefit will be increased and in 2010 long term recipients of the incapacity benefit will have to attend work capacity assessment programmes - similar to the failed programmes here in New Zealand that kicked a lot of ACC beneficiaries off ACC onto WINZ benefits. This guy is one of them. He has bipolar disorder.
Also announced: child benefits will increase for the first child, as will child tax credits for low income families - from 2009 - but that wont cover the abolition of the 10% starter rate for income tax, and would mean that 5.3 million of the lowest paid workers - including soldiers, teaching assistants - would be worse off - particularly the childless.
Corporate tax drops 2%, but other business taxes increase. Tax increases include capital gains tax, tax on family business and corporation tax. The government will launch the "savings gateway" nationally with the first accounts available by 2010. Polluting cars get higher taxes - up to £950 a year. Flight taxes increase and although Heathrow airport is to get an extension, that will lead to more runways, more emissions and more climate change - and more tax.
But this wasn`t mentioned in the statement to MPs. The middle class "stealth tax". The earnings ceiling for National Insurance - levied at 11% of earnings up to £34,840 and one per cent on anything above that - will increase to £40,040 next year , meaning anyone on £41,000 will pay around £500 a year more.
Meanwhile, MPs can claim up to £10,000 for a kitchen. Whatever for? MPs dont cook, do they?
Is this a foretaste of the last Labour budget in New Zealand for a while?