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from The Great Debate UK:

Budget boost for savers

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fay

--Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society. The opinions expressed are her own.--

As predicted, Budget 2009 was heavy on figures and forecasts and hard on the highest earners. Unsurprisingly it is the latter that the press has picked up on. We all knew that there would be a new top rate of income tax – though some were taken by surprise at the rate of 50 percent and the speed at which it will be introduced.

This wasn’t the only hit taken by those on big salaries with restrictions on pension tax relief for those on over £150K and personal allowances for those earning over £100K. These changes will be of concern and mean that financial advisers will need to review the position of their affected clients. However, advisers will have breathed a sign of relief as the rumoured removal of all higher rate tax relief on pensions did not materialise.

There was better news though for savers. The rise in ISA limits is a welcome move and will be available immediately for those over 50, with everyone else having to wait until next year. Whilst I assume this is aimed at providing some immediate assistance to those who rely on their savings to generate income, with interest rates so low, the increase will not deliver much benefit. At least some pensioners will also receive additional tax credits though.

In for a penny, in for £175 billion

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It may not be tax and spend exactly, but it’s definitely tax and borrow.

For the best part of 12 years, Labour has pursued essentially conservative (with a small ‘c’) economic policies, steadily underburdening itself of the ‘fiscally unreliable’ tag that some earlier Labour administrations were (wrongly or rightly) saddled with.

And for most of the past 12 years, as the global economy steadily expanded and Britain’s along with it, with aggregate wealth rising smoothly, Labour looked strong at the helm each time the budget came around.

Should the 10p tax rate have been scrapped?

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darling1.jpgA possible Commons rebellion by Labour MPs next Monday over the scrapping of the 10p starting tax rate has been averted but the episode has further damaged the standing of Gordon Brown.

In 2007, in his last budget as Chancellor, Brown abolished the 10p rate as he reduced the standard income tax rate to 20 from 22p and reformed National Insurance thresholds. Many backbench government MPs felt that hitting some of the poorest sections of the working population in such a way was an affront to their basic Labour principles.

Media round-up: Taxing times for “Incapability Brown”

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brownportrait.jpg******Gordon Brown returns to Westminster today facing a host of negative headlines describing him as a ditherer who has failed to make his mark as prime minister.******The Telegraph reckons Brown’s “failure to define what he stands for is provoking despair even among his loyal supporters” and charts his evolution from a dominant figure in politics under Tony Blair to “Incapability Gordon Brown”.******While Foreign Secretary David Miliband asserts that Brown has “strong values and convictions”, bets are already on for who would be odds-on favourite to take over.******Brown’s cut in the basic tax rate, announced in the 2007 budget, was to be paid for, at least in part, by the abolition of the 10 percent tax rate, but the plan has now turned into a “calculated tax ploy that mutated into a monster”, according to the Independent.******The olive branch offered by Chancellor Alistair Darling to quell the rebellion has prompted outrage, the paper says. It quotes Frank Field, the former minister leading demands for a package of social help for the poorest earners, as saying the measures offered were insufficient. “The talk about bringing forward a package this year or maybe next year just will not do,” Field said.******“If the rebels prevail, Brown could be ousted in days” is The Guardian’s take on Brown’s woes. “For Labour to have scheduled the vote on the 10p tax rate days ahead of the local elections, and with London on a knife edge, seems an act of incompetence so breathtaking that I’m left wondering whether it’s a Baldrick-like cunning plan,” columnist Jackie Ashley writes.******But there is some caution against rushing into finding a new leader. Tribune’s Joan Smith draws parallels to hapless former Prime Minister Anthony Eden: “As the Tories discovered in 1955, some people are not temperamentally suited to the top job and that will almost certainly be posterity’s verdict on Gordon Brown,” she writes. “And while it’s amusing to watch all the people who used to talk up the PM-in-waiting as they scramble to explain their man’s failures, it does leave Labour with a very big problem” — who would be best to replace him?

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