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What did you think of the Budget?


Chancellor Alistair Darling has made his second annual Budget speech to parliament. Among the measures announced to the House were an increase in petrol duty of 2p per litre in September and a 2 percent increase in alcohol and tobacco duties from tonight.

Darling also announced a scrappage scheme offering £2,000 to people trading in cars older than 10 years for a newer vehicle. From next April there will be a new top tax rate of 50 percent for those earning more than 150,000 pounds a year.

Meanwhile, the annual limit on individual savings accounts has been raised to 10,200 pounds and the Stamp Duty holiday on properties sold for less than 175,000 was extended until the end of the year. There was also money for wind farms and an extra 1 billion pounds to help homeowners and the construction industry.

Darling also forecast that the UK economy will shrink by 3.5 percent in 2009, saying “No country could insulate itself from the world downturn.”

Web round-up: the ups and downs of investment ISAs


With ISA season coming to an end in less than a month, investors need to act sooner rather than later to make the most of the tax-free benefits on offer. You can not carry your annual allowance of 7,200 pounds into the next tax year, so it is a simple case of ‘use it or lose it’.

But with interest rates plummeting to an all time low, returns on cash individual savings accounts are miserly. So are stocks and shares ISAs a better home for your money? Financial experts certainly seem to think so – and so it would appear do investors.

Consumers go it alone as storm clouds gather


storms21.jpgThe dust has settled on Alistair Darling’s first Budget and consumers have been given little reason for celebration. The Chancellor, though announcing various measures designed to increase housing affordability, has done nothing to help the masses.

There were no moves to give a helping hand to hard-pressed householders, already struggling amid rocketing mortgage, food, fuel and tax costs, to ride out an impending recession. Darling did pledge to introduce a savings scheme targeted at low and moderate earners, often least able to save: the “saving gateway” will attract government matching for savings over the duration of people’s participation in the scheme. This has the potential to introduce up to eight million people into mainstream savings in the UK who otherwise might not make thrift a priority.