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LGA: Wrong for quango to lead Ebbsfleet development

The Local Government Association expressed concern at the Chancellor's decision to establish an unelected urban development corporation to drive the development of Ebbsfleet.

While we support the Government's aims to build more houses, democratically accountable councils have been at the forefront of delivering local growth and the creation of a separate, remote quango is unnecessary.

Residents will be concerned that such a body, unelected and accountable to central government, could have the power to make local decisions about investment, planning, development and possibly even local transport.

– Sir Merrick Cockell, LGA chairman

Lord Lamont: 40p rate 'catches not very well off'

Former Conservative Chancellor Lord Lamont has told ITV News George Osborne should raise the threshold at which workers pay 40% income tax.

He said that some the current threshold was meaning some "not very well off" workers such as teachers, nurses and train drivers are being "caught" by the higher rate.

Lord Lamont added that he hoped a pledge to raise the threshold would be included in the next Conservative Party manifesto.

Read: Osborne unveils home-building plans

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Osborne refuses to be drawn on 40p rate

George Osborne says the government has planned a 1% increase in the 40p tax rate.
George Osborne says the government has planned a 1% increase in the 40p tax rate. Credit: BBC/Andrew Marr Show

George Osborne has refused to be drawn on calls to cut the 40p tax rate in real terms, despite facing pressure to help middle income earners being drawn into the higher levy.

The Chancellor told the Andrew Marr Show the government's plans are for a 1% rise in the threshold - a fall when inflation is factored in.

Mr Osborne was urged to raise the 40% tax threshold by former Conservative chancellor Lord Lawson earlier this week.

Read: Osborne plans first new garden city in 100 years

Ebbsfleet garden city to host '15,000 new homes'

George Osborne has announced plans to create a garden city with 15,000 new homes in Ebbsfleet.

Speaking on BBC's The Andrew Marr Show ahead of Wednesday's Budget, the Chancellor said it would be the country's first garden city in 100 years.

He also announced plans to extend the Help to Buy scheme for first-time-buyers beyond its planned 2016 deadline. It will now end at the end of the decade, Mr Osborne said.

Balls rules out VAT cut due to 'daunting' deficit

Shadow chancellor Ed Balls has ruled out a reversal of the rise in VAT in an interview on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, adding that he is "daunted" by the size of the deficit.

In 2012, Balls called for a temporary cut in VAT in an effort to boost the economy, but says the public finances would not allow such a measure after the next election.

Mr Balls added that the breadth of the "cost of living crisis" meant it was unlikely Labour would restore child benefit for higher earners, even though he would "like to".

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Ed Balls outlines Labour's six point budget plan

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls and Labour Ed Miliband have outlined the party's six point budget plan. In an article in the Sunday Mirror, Labour say they would:

  • Freeze energy bills until 2017 and reform the energy market to stop customers being ripped off
  • Cut taxes for 24 million working people on middle and low incomes with a lower 10p starting rate of income tax
  • Make work pay by expanding free childcare to 25 hours a week for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds
  • Put young people back to work, with a job the young unemployed have to take – paid for by a tax on bank bonuses
  • Get 200,000 homes built a year by 2020 and cut business rates for small firms
  • Balance the books in a fairer way by reversing the £3 billion tax cut for people earning over £150,000

Read: Ed Balls - 'Working people £1,600 a year worse off'

Ed Balls: 'Working people £1,600 a year worse off'

Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has outlined as six point budget plan, saying that the stakes are high for next week's announcement because "working people are on average £1,600 a year worse off".

Ed Balls says the Tories are "out of touch". Credit: Toby Melville/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Writing in the Sunday Mirror, Mr Balls said: "We can all expect George Osborne and David Cameron to try and claim everything is going well. But that’s totally out of touch when millions of working people on middle and lower incomes are not feeling any recovery at all."

Osborne: No turning away from deficit reduction

While he said that the economy was "on the mend", Chancellor George Osborne reaffirmed there would be no deviation from his deficit reduction strategy.

He said the deficit was still too high, which is why public sector workers face another year of pay restraint and welfare spending will be capped from 2015.

My Budget next week will set out what we must do to build a resilient economy.

We must not waver from our plan to reduce the budget deficit and deal with Britain's debts. That plan has delivered economic stability and low mortgage rates for families and it has laid the foundations for economic recovery.

None of these decisions are easy, but the alternatives are worse.

We've made huge progress dealing with the debts we inherited, but finishing the job will require further difficult decisions in the next parliament.

– George Osborne

He warned that the "single biggest risk" would be to change course just as the current strategy was delivering results.

Osborne to confirm promised cap on welfare payments

Chancellor George Osborne has warned of more "difficult decisions" in this week's Budget as he sets out his plans to build a "resilient economy" for the future.

Writing in The Sun on Sunday (behind paywall), Osborne confirmed he will use his Commons statement on Wednesday to spell out details of the Government's promised cap on welfare payments.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Credit: Scott Heppell/PA Wire/Press Association Images

He made clear that after five years of austerity, the squeeze on the public sector will have to continue beyond the general election and into the next parliament to rebuild the public finances.

Read: George Osborne presents bleak picture for the budget

Read: Working people £1,600 a year worse off, says Ed Balls

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