Brown punishes big car drivers

Gordon Brown has delivered his tenth Budget, punishing gas-guzzling drivers, extending free travel of pensioners and boosting his tax credit and baby bond schemes.

Gordon Brown has delivered his tenth Budget as Chancellor, with only a handful of new measures.

One of the most dramatic changes - although heavily trailed - is a new top rate of road tax for the most fuel hungry cars at £210 for petrol cars, up £40.

At the other end of the scale, the least polluting vehicles will pay no duty at all - a cut of £65.

Homes and business will be made more energy efficient, with better labelling on consumer goods, support for more insulation, and mini-wind turbines and solar power on 25,000 buildings.

Pensioners and the disabled will get free bus travel across England from 2008, extending the free local travel announced last year, at a cost of £250.

Low-paid workers could benefit from a review income tax and national insurance levels, and an extension of Labour's New Deal scheme to take in skills training. Unequal pay for women and the number of women in unskilled jobs will be especially targeted.

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He announced extra cash for his working family tax credits, a new £250 payment to baby bonds at age 7 - doubled for the poorest - and a £5 increase in the value of childcare vouchers.

He said there would be 1.2m additional childcare places, a rise of 90pc since Labour came to power.

Mr Brown confirmed new investment trusts for property deals, and announced new shared purchase schemes for first time house buyers, costing £970m and helping 35,000 young buyers.

He said local communities should see more direct benefit from 'planning gain' where developers pay for local improvements as part of building schemes.

In preparation for the 2012 Olympic, the Government will put in £200m - matched by £100m in sponsorship and £300m lottery cash - for sport training facilities, a £34m national sport foundation and an extension of the football foundation.

From now until 2012 the Government will fund an annual schools Olympics, starting in Glasgow next year and touring the country afterwards.

“The Games will end in 2012 but the legacy should continue, and it should benefit not just London but the country,” he said.

The Chancellor has announced a shake-up of science research funding, bringing together NHS and scientific budgets and promised new schemes to boost science teaching in schools.

It will be easier for business to invest in research and development, and inward investment will be encouraged. Foreign students will be able to work in the UK for a year after graduating from university.

Mr Brown said he would pay for a memorial to victims of terrorist attack, and announced the creation of a new charity dedicated to helping Britons affected by terrorism.

Cigarettes will rise 9p a packet, wine 4p, beer 1p. Taxes on other alcohol - including champagne - are frozen “in anticipation of World Cup success”.

Conservative leader David Cameron said the few mentions of the NHS in the Chancellor's speech proved there was a crisis in the institution.

He said Mr Brown was “stuck in the past”.

"In a carbon conscious world, we got a fossil fuel chancellor," he joked.

Mr Cameron said where the Government was doing well, it had stolen Tory ideas.

“I like what is happening. I come up with the ideas - he puts them in his

Budget.”

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