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Middle earners set for boost with '40% tax rate rise'

George Osborne is to accelerate plans to raise the threshold for 40% income tax in today's Budget, according to various newspaper reports.

According to the Times, Daily Mail and Daily Telegraph, the Chancellor is expected to begin increasing the threshold from the current £42,385 toward an eventual target of £50,000.

The rise is said to save up to £1,300 a year for those earning between £50,000 and £100,000, and follows a period in which millions were dragged into the higher-rate tax band.

SNP and Labour attack expected tax credit cuts

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie said tax credit cuts would hurt low-income families. Credit: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

The SNP and Labour have attacked anticipated Conservative plans to cut tax credits in the "first true blue Tory Budget" for nearly two decades.

SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie accused George Osborne of acting "like Robin Hood in reverse", with both parties claiming more than 500,000 children in Scotland would suffer as a result of the move.

Hosie, the party's Treasury spokesman at Westminster, said the Budget "looks set to be an offering from an austerity cult - damaging the economy and hurting hard working and vulnerable people".

Joining the condemnation, Labour's shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: "With their proposed cuts to tax credits, the Budget risks cutting the feet from under people who do the right thing, go out to work every day and try to do the best by their families.

"This Government needs to be tackling the root causes of the rising welfare bill - low pay and rising housing costs - to bring down the deficit in a sustainable way."


British woman dies after going missing on US mountain

A Pheonix Fire Department handout photo. Credit: Pheonix Fire Department

A British woman has been found dead after going missing on a mountain in the United States, local fire officials say.

The 48-year-old hiker was hiking with her husband and son on Camelback Mountain in Pheonix, Arizona when she became separated from them after reaching the summit, according to Pheonix Fire Department.

Officials said the woman was found off trail in a ravine after being reported missing around four hours earlier, local broadcaster 12 News reports.

It is currently unclear what caused her death.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it is looking into the reports and stands ready to provide consular assistance to the family.

Osborne: Greek crisis justifies spending cuts

George Osborne will announce his first all-Conservative Budget today. Credit: PA

George Osborne will call today's Budget one to "secure Britain's future" as he points to the situation in Greece as a reason to continue efforts to cut the deficit.

In his first Budget statement since his Conservative Party won a majority at the General Election, Osborne is expected to argue that "the greatest mistake this country could make would be to think all our problems are solved".

"You only have to look at the crisis unfolding in Greece as I speak to realise that if a country’s not in control of its borrowing, the borrowing takes control of the country."

Along with well-publicised measures to cut welfare spending, the Chancellor is also set to make announcements on education, infrastructure and investment in the north.

Will and Kate to watch Murray Wimbledon match-up

William and Kate have been regular supporters at Wimbledon. Credit: Rebecca Naden/PA Archive

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge will be in the stands at Wimbledon today hoping to cheer Andy Murray into the tournament's semi-finals.

The British number one takes on big server Vasek Pospisil, who played two five-set matches on Monday - one of which was against his older brother Jamie.

Speaking ahead of the game - which William and Kate will watch from Centre Court's Royal Box - Murray said: "He may also be a little bit fatigued, but then again he's played so much tennis that he's going to be comfortable in the conditions and in a good rhythm.

"If he is tired I'll obviously try to capitalise on that, but I won't bank on it," he added.


EC President: Sunday marks 'final deadline' for Greece

Tsipras, second from left, in discussions including Angela Merkel, Jean-Claude Juncker and Francois Hollande. Credit: Sandra Steins/DPA

European Council President Donald Tusk has warned Greece that this week's deadline for a reform-for-loans deal is "final", after the country's Prime Minister was told to come up with new proposals by Sunday.

Speaking after today's summit of European leaders, Tusk said: "The stark reality is that we have only five days left... Until now I have avoided talking about deadlines, but tonight I have to say loud and clear that the final deadline ends this week."

Tsipras told reporters talks at the summit "took place in a positive climate" and said the process for a new Greek offer would be "extremely fast".

Harman: Welfare cuts must not hurt low earners

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman has called on the Conservatives to lower welfare spending by reducing the amount of housing benefit paid to landlords and by taking measures to boost pay and employment.

Speaking ahead of the first Budget since the Tories won a majority at the General Election, Harman said her party would not challenge departmental spending cuts as their own manifesto had also pledged deep reductions.

However, she said George Osborne's planned welfare reductions of £12 billion must be made in a way that protects low earners.

"Yes, we need to be paying down the deficit - it's seven years after the global financial crisis and there's still debt that needs to be paid down," she said.

"But there are important ways to do it which are better than hitting people who are working hard."

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