Insights from the UK and beyond
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 Β£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.”
A union leader has called for a windfall tax on oil companies after BP reported a big rise in profits.
Supporters say this “Robin Hood” tactic would help hard-pressed households struggling to meet eye-watering energy and petrol bills.