This year’s budget wasn’t the most exciting, but in the current financial climate, you could hardly expect it to be.
With businesses and consumers finding borrowing more and more difficult, as banks reduce their lending following the credit crunch, and as the cost of electricity, gas, petrol and food continue to rise, we’re all finding that keeping control of our finances is increasingly important. And each year, we look to the budget to provide us with some respite, or to see where we’ll end up spending even more of our money.
As usual, this year smokers and drinkers have come off pretty badly, with 11p being added to the cost of a pack of cigarettes, 4p added to the price of a pint of beer (you can happily drink yourself silly at current prices until Sunday when the extra duty takes effect – have a good weekend!).
Pensioners and low income families have probably done the best out of the budget (provided they’re not heavy smokers and drinkers!). Pensioners are to receive more winter fuel allowance this year (although many would say it’s not enough in the light of the recent electricity and gas price rises) whilst low income families are going to receive more help in the shape of changes to housing and council tax benefits. There will also be an increase in Child Benefit fom April ’09.
Another interesting point is the roll-out of the “Savings Gateway”, a government subsidised savings scheme for those on low incomes, which has already been piloted in certain parts of the country.
Key public sector workers will also be pleased to learn they will be exempt from stamp duty on shared ownership properties where they own less than 80% of the property. Unfortunately, the scheme will fail to have any impact on house prices and probably leaves out many other first-time buyers.
If you’re still wondering how the Budget has affected you, then the BBC has a great little Budget calculator to give you an idea, plus for more in depth coverage of the Budget, visit the BBC’s Budget section.
Photo by Colin 30d