Gordon Brown unveils tenth Budget

Chancellor Gordon Brown has delivered his tenth Budget address today, with a number of changes for schools, road taxes and the environment.

On education, Mr Brown announced that he would increase the amount of investment in state school pupils from the current £5,000 per pupil to the current average spend on private school pupils of £8,000 over the next five years.

He also announced that investment in state schools would rise from £5.6 million to £8 billion over five years.

Three thousand extra science teachers would also be recruited as part of the extra funding for schools, as well as funding for after school science clubs, Mr Brown announced.

The Chancellor also said that a total of £600 million would be invested in young athletes ahead of the 2012 Olympics and also announced the introduction of an annual 'schools Olympics'.

Mr Brown also announced plans to "radically reform" vehicle excise duty in order to target "gas-guzzling" cars. The Chancellor announced that there would be a zero duty rate on small cars which had low carbon emissions, while others would pay between £40 and a new higher band of £210 for the 1% of cars which polluted the most.

Also on the issue of the environment, the Chancellor rejected representations to abolish the climate change levy. He also announced a £50 million fund for 'microgeneration technologies' to enable homes and businesses to generate their own renewable energies.

On the economy, Mr Brown predicted that growth would be between 2% - 2.5% this year, meeting his fiscal rules. Inflation also remained on target at 2%.

The Chancellor also announced plans to cap civil servants pay rises at 2.25%.

Mr Brown announced that net borrowing would fall from 2.4% of national income to 1.9% and in successive years, 1.6%, 1.6%, 1.6% and 1.5%.

Personal tax allowance will also increase from £4,895 to £5,035. The inheritance tax threshold will also rise to £325,000 and the stamp duty threshold on house prices will also increase to £125,000.

Child benefit will also rise to £17.45 per week from April 10 and vouchers for childcare will increase by £5 to £55 per week.

Cigarette smokers will face a 9p per pack of 20 cigarettes rise from tomorrow. Drinkers will also pay 1p more for a pint and 4p for a bottle of wine from midnight on Sunday. Duty was frozen on spirits and cider. Mr Brown also joked that duty would be frozen on champagne and bottles of sparkling wine "in anticipation of World Cup success this summer".

Air passenger tax was also frozen.

An extra £100 million was also announced by Mr Brown to provide an additional 10,000 community support officers in England and Wales.

The Chancellor also announced that all pensioners and the disabled would get free off-peak bus travel nationwide, from 2008, as well as free local travel.


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