By Sumeet Desai
LONDON, Dec 9 (Reuters) – Britain’s Labour government slapped a one-off levy on bank bonuses on Wednesday and said it would hike income tax for all but the poorest in 2011, delaying action to tackle a record deficit until after an election it is expected to lose.
Despite warnings by ratings agencies that debt has to be reined in, finance minister Alistair Darling revised up his borrowing forecast for this year to a record 177.6 billion pounds ($290 billion) or 12.6 percent of GDP, from 175 billion.
Next year’s borrowing forecast was also revised up by 3 billion pounds in a pre-budget report that would normally be full of populist giveaways given an election is due in less than six months and Labour is well behind in opinion polls.
Darling tried to set out Labour’s electoral pitch, promising to protect schools, hospitals and the police from the sharp spending cuts that will have to be felt almost everywhere else.
He also talked about getting the wealthy to pay their share, trying to draw a distinction between Labour as the party of hard-working families against a Conservative Party it says is more interested in protecting the interests of the rich.