Chancellor George Osborne described Budget 2013 as one that recognised Britain as an 'aspiration nation'. He said it was a Budget for those who aspire to 'own their own home, get their first job, or start their own business.'
The Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded its forecast for growth to 0.6 per cent for 2013, halving its previous estimate of 1.2 per cent for this year. It also said it expects an additional 600,000 new jobs to be created this year with 60,000 fewer employment benefit claimants.
Corporation tax will fall to 20 per cent from 2015, following the reduction to 21 per cent in 2014. The main and small profit rates of corporation tax will also be merged as part of the Government's plans to create a simpler taxation system. Other key measures included the introduction of a new employment allowance, which will reduce employers' National Insurance bills by GBP 2,000, and new tax reliefs for investments in social enterprise.
The income tax personal allowance will rise to the Government's stated aim of GBP 10,000 from April 2014, a year ahead of schedule. The flat-rate, GBP 144 per week single-tier state pension will also be introduced a year earlier than planned, in 2016. Elsewhere, the Government announced a 20 per cent contribution towards the first GBP 6,000 cost of childcare for each child for working families.
It was good news in terms of fuel and beer, with the planned fuel duty rise scheduled for September cancelled, the beer duty escalator scrapped completely and the beer duty falling by two per cent - or a penny a pint - on 25 March 2013. Shares traded on growth markets - such as the AIM - will also be exempt from stamp duty.