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Budget 2014: “Job is far from done” says Chancellor, despite increased growth forecasts

PUBLISHED: 15:18 19 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:19 19 March 2014

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivering his Budget statement to the House of Commons.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivering his Budget statement to the House of Commons.

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

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 £5billion. 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.”

Mr Osborne warned that cuts would continue, with a cap on welfare bills including housing benefit and tax credits.

Only the State Pension and the cyclical unemployment benefits will be excluded.

The move lays down the gauntlet to Labour to match the figure.

Mr Osborne said the cap would be set it at £119bn in 2015/16. It will rise, but only in line with forecast inflation, to £127bn in 2018/19.

The Chancellor told MPs: “None of these decisions are easy, but they are the right thing to ensure Britain lives within her means.”

He added: “Britain should always be proud of having a welfare system that helps those most in need.

“But never again should we allow its costs to spiral out of control and its incentives to become so distorted that it pays not to work.”

He added: “The message from this Budget is: you have earned it; you have saved it; and this government is on your side, whether you’re on a low or middle income, whether you’re saving for your home, for your family or for your retirement,” Mr Osborne told MPs.

“The forecasts I’ve presented show: growth up; jobs up; and the deficit down. With the help of the British people we’re turning our country around. We’re building a resilient economy. This is a Budget for the makers, the doers, and the savers.”

But Labour leader Ed Miliband responded: “The Chancellor spoke for nearly an hour but he did not mention one central fact: the working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories.”

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