Everyone wants a piece of Darling's budget

10 March 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The Chancellor Alistair Darling is involved in a tug of war with various groups which are urging him to include their recommendations in his first budget on Wednesday.

Small businesses, energy lobbyists, providers, banks, and alcohol abuse campaigners are all eager to see their causes included in the budget.

The Association of Independent Financial Advisors (AIFA) is calling for Mr Darling to "deliver a budget for pensions" which will "provide a better retirement outlook for UK consumers". Chris Cummings, Director General of AIFA hopes that the Chancellor's reform will "seek to encourage investment among business and consumers".

Nationwide is urging the Chancellor to make saving a priority on Wednesday. Graham Beale, Nationwide’s chief executive asks that he make the most of this "opportunity to introduce changes that can make a real difference to people’s wealth". He believes that "more can be done to encourage consumers to use their ISA allowance and embrace the tax-efficient benefits they bring." Mr Beale would also like to see a budget that will "encourage more parents to contribute to child trust funds."

Small businesses are not hopeful that the budget will benefit them, with just seven per cent believing that it will "bring good news for Britain's entrepreneurs", according to research by the Bank of Scotland. Nearly half of Britain's business people think that the 2008 budget will have a negative impact on small businesses, and about the same number believe it will have very little effect at all.

Ivan Matviak, Head of business banking, at the Bank of Scotland, said that "If small businesses are to remain the lifeblood of a growing economy, then it's up to the Government to deliver some good news and provide a boost to Britain's small business owners."

Lobbyists for lower energy costs for consumers will be pleased to hear that Mr Darling will tackle the issue of pre-pay energy meters and the discrepancy which exists between such customers and those which pay by direct debit, who save £140 a year. He plans to control the tariffs paid by 3.8 million electricity customers and 2.8 million gas customers using pre-pay meters. However, he has also announced controversial plans that will not see the huge energy companies hit by a tax windfall as they usually are, despite accruing huge profits as consumers struggle to pay their bills and heat their houses.

Green activists will have reason to rejoice when the Chancellor unveils plans to increase the vehicle excise duty on new cars – especially those which are heavy on fuel – and road tax for gas-guzzlers, while decreasing it for those drivers which opt for a more fuel-efficient car.

In order to help Britons struggling to get on the property ladder and keep up with mortgage repayments, the Chancellor will announce plans to make 25-year fixed rate mortgages more widely available. However, his plans to give a 'gold standard' to reliable lenders and offer them better deals in order to allow the credit market some room to breathe have been met with much criticism, because they will not be available to the poorer customers who are most in need.

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