As ever, the Duckhouse salutes Guido Fawkes ( http://www.order-order.com/ ) who has given his particular view on the Budget Winners and Losers. http://orderorder.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/budget.jpg
* Job providing corporations.
* Internet Service Providers.
* Business start-ups in northern cities.
* The people of Sheffield with the "Nick Clegg Memorial Enterprise Zone".
* Local councillors and their £100m to spend on potholes.
* Charities - 10% death tax cut if money is given away.
* Private jet users.
* Tax avoiders.
* Councils and their frozen tax.
* Tree huggers - green belt planning permission up for auction.
* Sleepy Ken Clarke.
* George Osborne's throat.
* Whoever came up with last years growth figures.
* Ed Miliband's press team who sent the speech out before Red Ed had floundered through it with whole sections changed.
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Although average quarterly growth this year is set to be higher than was previously forecast, the annual forecast for 2011 has been revised to 1.7%. This the OBR attributes specifically to the weaker than expected final quarter of last year, the rise in world commodity prices and the higher-than-expected inflation in the UK.
However, the OBR point out that the effect, in their words, "creates scope for slightly stronger growth in later years" than previously forecast. So while they expect real GDP growth of 2.5% next year, they forecast it will then rise:
To 2.9% in 2013; To 2.9% in 2014; Followed by 2.8% in 2015.
The European Commission has also this month published its growth forecasts. These show that the UK is forecast to grow more strongly in the coming year than Spain, Italy, France, the average for the Eurozone and the average for the EU.
All countries have to steer a course between two central risks. The risk of a European sovereign debt crisis on the one hand and on the other the risk that comes from rising global commodity prices. Food prices around the world have increased by nearly 50% since the beginning of last year.
Oil has risen 35% rise in just 5 months. That is why the OBR expect inflation to remain between 4 and 5% for most of this year, before dropping to 2.5% next year and then to 2% in two years time.
I have today written to the Governor of the Bank of England to confirm that the inflation target for the Monetary Policy Committee will remain at 2%, as measured by the Consumer Prices Index. I can also confirm that the Asset Purchase Facility set up by my predecessor will remain in place.
Once cause of current instability is the conflict inside Libya. The whole House will praise the courage and professionalism of our armed forces, who are trying to bring that conflict to an end and save lives. And I can confirm that the additional cost of military operations will be met entirely from the Treasury reserve.
The House will also know that last week I authorised for the UK to take part in a co-ordinated G7 currency intervention in support of the Japanese Yen. Our hearts go out to the Japanese people - and this is one way we can help. It is still too early to say what lasting impacts the earthquake and tsunami will have on the world economy.
But this is an opportunity for me to report that we had already decided to rebuild the UK's foreign currency reserves, which are at a historically low level. We will purchase a range of high-quality assets - though unfortunately, with the price of gold now at record highs, we will not be able to replenish the gold reserves sold at record lows. I turn now to the fiscal forecasts for our debt and deficit.
Borrowing to fund the deficit this year is now set to come in at stg 146 billion, below target. Then fall to stg122 billion next year.
Then stg 101 billion the year after. Then stg 70 billion in 2013-14. Then 46 billion. And stg 29 billion by 2015-16.
Inflation has had its impact but crucially the OBR assess that next year's structural deficit remains the same as forecast last November. In other words, the size of the task of repairing Britain's finances is unchanged.
Our national debt, as a share of our national income, is forecast to be 60% this year, before peaking at 71%, and then starting to fall reaching 69% by the end of the period. This leads me to one of the central tasks of the OBR.
That of assessing the Government's performance against its stated budget goals - in an open and independent way, so that we avoid repeating the disastrous experience of the so-called golden rule. Our fiscal mandate is to achieve a cyclically-adjusted current balance by the end of the rolling five year forecast period which is currently 2015-16.
We have supplemented that with a fixed target for debt: so that debt should be falling as a proportion of GDP by the year 2015-16 as well. I can report to the House that the OBR confirm that on their central forecast we will meet both these objectives - a balanced structural current budget and falling national debt by the end of the Parliament.
Indeed, the forecast remains that we will meet both these objectives one year earlier. But, Mr Deputy Speaker, I said at the start that stability and fiscal responsibility was not enough.
Our country has to compete if we are going to create growth and jobs. Britain has fallen behind many others in the world in the last decade. We've dropped from 4th to 12th place in the global competitiveness league.
And growth in our country has been so unbalanced. Consider this staggering truth during the boom years before the bust, private sector employment actually fell in a region as important as the West Midlands. So today's Budget is an urgent call to action for Britain.
Private sector growth must take the place of government deficits. Prosperity must be shared across all parts of the UK. Yes, we want the City of London to remain the world's leading centre for financial services, but we should resolve that the rest of the country becomes a world leader in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, creative industries, business services, green energy and so much more.
This is our vision for growth. Difficult decisions and major reforms are needed to make it happen. But the alternative is to accept Britains economic decline and a continuing fall in living standards for our population.
And that is not an alternative anyone in this House should be prepared to accept. This Budget sets for Britain these four economic ambitions. That Britain should:
Have the most competitive tax system in the G20; - Be the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business; - Be a more balanced economy, by encouraging exports and investment; - And have a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe.
Let me set out the measures now that will achieve these ambitions. First, taxation. Heres the truth - Britain used to have the 3rd lowest corporate tax rate in Europe. It now has the sixth highest.
At the same time, our tax code has become so complex that it recently overtook India to become the longest in the world. Adam Smith first set out the principles of good taxation.