Budget 2014: 1p off a pint and no fuel rise

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.

The Chancellor was said to be the toast of brewers, pubs and drinkers after announcing a 1p cut in the price of a pint for the second year running.

George Osborne also announced the fuel duty rise planned for September will not take place but tobacco duty will rise by two per cent above inflation, and the escalator extended for the rest of the next Parliament.

Bingo duty will be halved to 10% to protect jobs and communities,

Air-passenger duty for long-haul flights will be “reformed” from 2015 so ‘it’s fairer’, he said.

There will be no income tax next year at all on the first £10,500 of salaries.

He hailed the success of the coalition’s austerity plan as he delivered his fifth Budget today - insisting the Government will be back in the black by 2018.

But Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Government was overseeing more tax cuts for the richest while everyone else gets squeezed, saying “working people are worse off under the Tories, living standards down month after month”.

Mr Osborne said he wanted to help savers by dramatically increasing the simplicity, flexibility and generosity of ISAs, merging cash and stocks ISAs to create a single New ISA, by increasing the annual limit to £15,000.

He also announced the most far-reaching reform to the taxation of pensions since 1921 - removing all remaining tax restrictions on how pensioners have access to their pension pots,

Mr Osborne said he was “determined” that the HS2 rail link should go “further north faster”.

He announced £200 million to be made available for councils to repair potholes and £20 million to support cathedral repairs.

The “Help-to-buy” scheme is also to be extended to the end of decade to build 120,000 new homes.

Measures to: “cut the cost of manufacturing in Britain” were also revealed.

The alcohol industry said the move to reduce tax will protect 7,000 jobs, mainly of younger people working in pubs and bars.

Brigid Simmonds, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said of the 1p off a pint: “This is fantastic news, and George Osborne is again the toast of Britain’s brewers, pubs and pubgoers.

“It also shows that the Government has understood our case, that taxes on British beer had become far too high, and action was long overdue.

“I hope this becomes a trend in future budgets for this British-made, lower-strength drink.”

Mike Benner, chief executive of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said: “Camra is delighted to see the Chancellor implementing an unprecedented second consecutive cut of 1p in beer duty. This is not only about keeping the price of a pint affordable in British pubs but helping an industry which has been in overall decline continue on its long road to recovery.

“Camra cares greatly about the future of the great British pub and it is clear from this Budget announcement that the Government do too.

“Keeping the price of a pint affordable is vital for the long-term health of the pub sector and Camra would hope this latest vote of confidence in British pubs will go some way to slowing the rate of closures, by encouraging more people to make use of their local this summer.

“No doubt many of our 160,000 members will be raising a glass to the Chancellor this evening to toast another brilliant Budget for British beer drinkers.”

The Chancellor said the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) was now predicting a 0.2% surplus in 2018/19, meaning that he could deliver boosts to hardworking families and savers.

But he stressed that he would not loosen the purse strings despite economic growth being revised up, and the Government would keep “”putting Britain right”.

“I can report today that the economy is continuing to recover - and recovering faster than forecast,” Mr Osborne told MPs.

“We set out our plan. And together with the British people, we held our nerve. We’re putting Britain right.

“But the job is far from done. Our country still borrows too much. We still don’t invest enough, export enough or save enough.

“So today we do more to put that right. This is a Budget for building a resilient economy.

“If you’re a maker, a doer or a saver, this Budget is for you.”

Mr Osborne added: “It is all part of a long-term economic plan - a plan that is delivering security for the people of this country.

“In 2018/19 we won’t be borrowing at all. We will have a small surplus of almost £5 billion.

“Taken together, these new figures mean Britain will be borrowing £24 billion less than was forecast. That’s more than we spend in an entire year on the police and criminal justice system.”