Chancellor’s budget leaves Hampshire residents ‘underwhelmed’

DUTY Richard Dore-Dennis, from North End, is happy there's been a cut in fuel tax, but thinks it will make little difference.     Picture: Paul Jacobs (111066-2)
DUTY Richard Dore-Dennis, from North End, is happy there's been a cut in fuel tax, but thinks it will make little difference. Picture: Paul Jacobs (111066-2)
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A PENNY decrease in fuel costs has been welcomed by residents and businesses, but many people were left disappointed by yesterday’s budget.

Chancellor George Osborne set out his plans for the UK economy yesterday afternoon, described by experts and members of the public as underwhelming.

His first full budget was announced under twin clouds, as he admitted inflation was higher, and growth lower, than he had targeted.

But he promised fuel, which had been set to rise in price by roughly £3.60 per £60 tank, would instead be cut by 1p per litre.

The saving came into effect at 6pm yesterday.

It could leave people in our region £4.20 better off than expected each time they fill their tanks, but the measure was not enough to deflect criticism.

DJ Richard Dore-Dennis, 30, of North End, said: ‘I use my car a lot for work and I’m glad this saving has been announced, but it won’t make a lot of difference on its own. Prices rise for lots of other reasons and they might still go up. It’s a bit like being approached by a mugger, told how much he could take from you and then told he won’t.’

And Frank Dixie, MD of Fareham logistics company PSP, said: ‘It’s too little too late and families and businesses like ours, which rely on fuel to transport goods around the world, are left with a crippling cost.’

Mr Osborne told the House of Commons the budget was primarily designed to encourage the private sector to increase employment.

It included measures such as small companies being handed a 200 per cent research and development tax credit.

Matthew Harrison, tax director at CW Fellowes Ltd, said: ‘It’s a budget that’s good for business and private sector jobs, but will do little to help individuals cope with high fuel and other living costs.’

But Fareham Tory MP Mark Hoban, a Treasury Minister, said: ‘It will help create jobs, which will help the economy grow and benefit everyone, and we’re also helping 23m people by raising the personal tax allowance.’

Mr Osborne announced the personal tax allowance, the level of pay at which people start to pay income tax, will be raised to £8,105 by 2012.

Portsmouth South’s Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock said: ‘It takes us closer to my party’s promise people won’t have to pay income tax on anything below £10,000. It’ll help people out of poverty. It’s not a budget that goes as far as I’d like, but we have to be realistic.’

Other key proposals include a pay increase of £250 per year for NHS, education, armed services or civil service workers earning £21,000 or less, a rise in tobacco prices by about 15p per pack of cigarettes and in alcohol prices by around 4p per pint of beer.

The government will also set up a ‘first-time buyer fund’, in which households with less than £60,000 per year can take a loan, interest free for five years, worth 20 per cent of the value of the house they want to buy.

Mr Osborne also promised an extra 100,000 work experience places and 40,000 apprenticeships in a bid to cut youth unemployment.