UK credit rating 'at risk'

The credit rating agency Fitch has warned that the Chancellor's confession during the Autumn Statement that he missed its debt target could threaten the UK's AAA rating. But George Osborne has downplayed the impact potential if that happened.

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Unions: Government guilty of economic illiteracy

Union leaders have accused the Chancellor of being "wildly out of touch" with the lives of millions of people:

Two years ago we said austerity wouldn't work and we were right. It didn't work then and it won't work now, but the Chancellor is refusing to change track, presenting a smoke-and-mirrors statement that will do nothing to boost our ailing economy. Such a toxic combination of arrogance and economic illiteracy would be laughable if it wasn't so serious, if real people's lives and communities weren't being torn apart by this Government's failed policies.

– Public and Commercial Services Union

Today's statement is more proof that the Chancellor neither knows nor cares about what ordinary working people in this country are going through. The austerity agenda means that families across the country have even less to spend on everyday essentials, while tax winners at the top have more. Raising personal tax allowances is small beer for families facing rising food and energy bills.

– Unison

Fuel decision to 'help boost confidence of consumers'

Cancelling January's rise is exactly what we asked for. It will provide much needed support for consumers. It will ease the pressure on household budgets, boost customers ability to spend and help hard-pressed retailers contain their transport costs.

Rebuilding the confidence of customers to spend and retailers to invest and create jobs have to be the Chancellors priorities. This will provide a useful boost.

For the future, the ritual of announcing rises that are later dropped or delayed should end. A clearer more consistent approach would support longer-term decision making.

– British Retail Consortium

Scrapping 3p fuel duty rise 'victory for drivers'

Big Ben's chimes ringing in a nearly £2-a-tank hike in petrol and diesel prices would have back fired on the Government and economy. The Treasury may have thought that a fuel duty increase in the winter, when petrol is usually cheaper, would have been easier. But, toasting the new year with Champagne at a lower duty rate than road fuel underlines successive governments' failure to spot the difference between a luxury and a necessity. In 20 years, UK motoring has cut its fuel consumption by 20% but contributes 144% more in fuel duty tax.

– Edmund King, AA President

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