Some of the most widespread speculation surrounds tax cuts. On a visit to Hull, Liberal Democrat Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander said the Government's already announced a tax cut “worth £130 to basic rate payers” from April. He said today’s Budget “needs to take further steps on that”.
Reports also suggest George Osborne could cut the top rate of income tax for those earning over £150,000 from 50p to 45p. Some Conservatives believe the rate is holding back growth. Others are said to feel uneasy about the message a cut would send.
Is their priority those at the top…or is their priority ordinary working families?”
Unions have reacted angrily to the prospect that nationally set pay rates for some public sector workers could be scrapped after Treasury figures found that they earn, on average, 8% more than those in the private sector.
The TUC claims that reducing public sector wages by 1% in Yorkshire, North and North East Lincolnshire would take £130 million out of the region’s economy.
Hull North MP Diana Johnson argues the London Weighting scheme already helps workers with the extra cost of living in the South.
It would suck even more money out of Hull's local economy in favour of wealthier areas, mostly in London and the South East. "
The Labour Leader of Sheffield City Council has called on George Osborne to address the “widening north south divide in unemployment”.
We are committed to standing up for Sheffield to get a fair deal for our city by taking action, but we need the Government to act to help us develop growth industries in our region”.
Her plea comes after a report by the Institute for Public Policy Research claimed the north south divide “has never been wider” when it comes to jobs.
But Employment Minister Chris Grayling said it was not “simply” a north south divide as “variations are also found within regions.”
“We want to see private sector growth in the form of investment from overseas. But also with new businesses growing, emerging and developing”.
With fuel prices hitting record highs, there have been calls from some to scrap a planned three pence rise in fuel duty due in August to help families and businesses. One North Yorkshire MP is demanding extra help specifically for rural areas.
After Ryedale was named as the most expensive place in the country to buy fuel, the Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, Anne McIntosh, has been campaigning for a “rural fuel duty rebate”.
A similar scheme is running in Scotland and sees motorists in some of the most remote areas eligible to reclaim up to five pence per litre on petrol and diesel. But cutting fuel duty would be expensive. It’s estimated a one pence cut could cost the Treasury around half a billion pounds a year.
There is a real and pressing need for a fuel duty rebate. I have made several representations to the Chancellor recently about the need for action and I await his Budget expectantly.”