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March 13, 2008    

Car and drink tax increased in 2008 budget

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by Kay Murchie

During his first Budget announcement to the House of Commons yesterday, Chancellor Alistair Darling has put 4p on a pint of beer, 3p on cider and 14p on a bottle of wine and 55p on spirits, ending a 10-year freeze on spirit duties. Duty on a packet of 20 cigarettes is up 11p and 4p on cigars.

Conservative leader, David Cameron, said the Budget contained ‘truly dreadful figures’ and added that Labour was reaping a harvest for overspending in the past. ‘In the years of plenty they put nothing aside,’ said Mr Cameron.

The cost of living is increasing and Labour is making it worse, added Mr Cameron.

Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, criticised Gordon Brown of an ‘act of political ventriloquism’. He said that Chancellor Alistair Darling was the Prime Minister’s ‘creature’ who had been left to clear up his economic ‘mess’.

Other people affected in yesterday’s budget include the drivers of high-polluting cars, who will be hit by £1,000 vehicle excise duty in the first year when they buy a brand new car. However, those buying greener cars will pay no vehicle excise duty for a year.

A 2p increase in petrol duty was postponed until October, to avoid it driving prices over the £5 a gallon mark.

The over-60s will receive £250 winter fuel payment instead of £200 and the over-80s will receive £400 instead of £300.

The child element of the child tax credit for families on low and middle income would increase by £50 a year above inflation. A working family with one child on the lowest income will gain up to £17 a week, lifting 150,000 children out of poverty, added Mr Darling.

In his statement, Mr Darling insisted that Britain could not be immune from international economic shocks such as the global credit crunch, fuel prices and higher power bills. Other countries were worse, claimed Mr Darling.

The Chancellor has been criticised for failing to help the majority of first-time buyers. The only hope for struggling homebuyers are those in shared-equity schemes which is just a minority of first-time buyers.

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