By Jonathan Davies
The Chancellor George Osborne delivers his final Budget Statement of this government today (Wednesday). We'll be covering the Budget LIVE throughout the day.
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13:37 - The Labour leader says that no one will believe Mr Osborne when he says the Budget will cut people's taxes.
13:32 - After 59 minutes, the Chancellor George Osborne has finished his sixth and potentially final, Budget statement.
He finishes: "The share of national income taken up by debt - falling. The deficit down. Growth up. Jobs up. Living standards on the rise. Britain on the rise... This is the Budget for Britain, the comeback country."
Labour leader Ed Miliband will have his say and we'll round-up the major talking points.
13:31 - 95% of savers will see the first £1000 of savings not taxed.
13:28 - 5 million pensioners will get access to their annuity early. A new flexible ISA will be introduced, allowing people to take-out and return their savings without losing their tax-free entitlement.
Help to Buy ISA for first-time buyers will be introduced, adding £50 to every £200 saved to help buyers save for their deposit.
13:25 - As expected, the Personal Tax-Free Allowance will be raised to £10,800 next year and £11,000 in 2017. The higher tax rate is rising above inflation, not just with it. "It will rise from £42,385 this year to £43,300 by 2017-18," Mr Osborne says.
13:24 - Onto living costs: 1p off beer duty, cider duty cut by 2%, spirit duty cut by 2%. Fuel duty increase scheduled for September has been cancelled.
13:22 - As expected, no more paper tax return. It will all be digital by 2020.
13:19 - Digital infrastructure will get plenty of investment, the Chancellor says. Internet of Things, 4G and broadband speeds all mentioned.
13:18 - Mr Osborne reveals funding for various cultural areas. We'll have more detail on those later.
13:17 - With falling oil prices causing huge problems for the North Sea oil and gas industry, petroleum revenue tax cut from 50% to 35%.
13:15 - On Wales, the Chancellor says the government is working on a Cardiff City deal and will enter negotiations over a subsidy for the Swansea tidal lagoon. Tolls for the Severn Bridge will also be cut from 2018. He says the government will continue working on Scotland's devolution promises.
13:13 - Interesting one on driverless cars, Mr Osborne commits £100 million to research & development.
13:12 - The Chancellor confirms new investment for London transport projects, but reiterates plans to create a 'Northern economic powerhouse'. Manchester will keep 100% of extra revenue generated through business rates.
13:08 - Mr Osborne claims that the UK's economy could be bigger than Germany, becoming the strongest in Europe within 15 years.
13:06 - The Lifetime Allowance pensions will be reduced from £1.25m to £1m, saving £600m a year.
13:04 - The new diverted profits tax will come into effect next month.
13:03 - Mr Osborne refers to "fairness" - "I said we would all be in this together and here is the proof.
Compared to five years ago:
Inequality is lower.
Child poverty is down.
Youth unemployment is down.
Pensioner poverty is at its lowest level ever.
The gender pay gap has never been smaller.
Payday loans are capped.
And zero hours contracts regulated."
13:02 - The Chancellor identifies where £30bn worth of savings will come from: £13bn from government departments, £12bn from the welfare budget, £5bn from tax avoidance/evasion. "We have done it in this Parliament; we can do it in the next," he says.
He also says the share of all income tax paid by the richest 1% will rise from 25% in 2010 to 27% in 2015.
12:59 - Borrowing forecasts: £90.2bn this year, 2015-16 to £75.3 billion; £39.4bn in 2016-17, before falling to £12.8bn in 2017-18. That's £5bn less than forecast in the Autumn Statement.
12:57 - Mr Osborne predicted a budget surplus of £23bn in 2019/20, but he's just said it will be 0.2%, or £7bn.
12:55 - He also says that the squeeze on public spending will end a year earlier, and is set to rise in 2019/20 in line with the economy
12:53 - The Chancellor says his 2010 target of reducing the national debt share of GDP has been met. He says: "Debt as a share of GDP falls from 80.4% in 2014-15; to 80.2% in the year 2015-16. And it keeps falling to 79.8% in 2016-17; then down to 77.8% the following year, to 74.8% in 2018-19 before it reaches 71.6% in 2019-20."
12:50 - Government to sell £9bn worth of Lloyds shares, Mr Osborne says. £13bn worth of mortgage assets from Northern Rock and Bradford & Bingley bailouts will be sold.
12:49 - We've already seen it this morning, but the new £1 coin has been confirmed. If you haven't seen it, here it is.
12:46 - The Chancellor reminds us of the rise in National Minimum Wage, set to take effect in October, and reiterates David Cameron's claims that it will be more than £8 by the end of the decade. Labour is promising to raise NMW to £8 by 2020, remember.
12:42 - Mr Osborne claims the North grew faster than the South last year. The OBR has forecast UK growth to be 2.5% in 2015, above initial forecasts of 2.3% and the Autumn Statement's revision of 2.4%. Growth expected to be 2.3% in 2016 (up from 2.2%) and 2.2% in 2017 (down from 2.3%).
12:40 - UKTI funding to support companies exporting to China will be doubled, and Osborne confirms UK's plans the become a founding member of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).
12:39 - Referring to oil prices and the eurozone, the Chancellor says the OBR has revised down the world economic growth forecast and warns about the risk of uncertainty in Greece.
12:38 - Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has confirmed the UK grew faster than any developed nation last year, the Chancellor says.
12:35 - Looks like George has generated a new soundbite - "walking tall".
12:33 - Here we go. It's time for Chancellor Geroge Osborne to deliver his final Budget of this Parliament. Buzzword alert in his opening sentences - "tough decisions".
12:31 - David Cameron hugely complimentary of the hundreds of thousands of people who have started their own business since 2010.
12:25 - PMQs almost finished which means the Budget is minutes away.
12:21 - George Osborne usually pulls a rabbit out of the hat, and there are pretty strong rumours that he could announce some form of capital gains tax on properties worth more than £2 million.
12:14 - David Cameron is hugely complimentary about the performance of Jaguar Land Rover and the wider manufacturing industry in the West Midlands.
12:07 - I don't think I've ever heard the word "kitchen" so many time in the space of five minutes.
12:02 - David Cameron in a blue tie, Nick Clegg a yellow one. Theresa May is wearing a red dress suit - someone didn't get the 'don't wear the opposition's colours' memo.
11:58 - Although it's not the focus of today, we'll be keeping an eye on Prime Minister's Questions which is getting underway in a few minutes time. And that means around 30 minutes to go until George Osborne delivers the Budget.
11:30 - One hour to go, folks! And that means 30 minutes until PMQs.
11:25 - And for those betting on a blue tie, your luck is out! Mr Osborne is sporting what looks like a grey tie. So those who went for the 6/1 grey tie bet are in the money!
11:22 - He's appeared! The Chancellor George Osborne has completed the age-old tradition of standing outside Number 11 Downing Street and holding up a red briefcase. He probably arrived at Parliament before I even managed to type this!
11:11 - As you well know by now, this is the final Budget of this government. And the BBC has put together brilliant this video of economic images from the past five years of the coalition government.
11:05 - Vince Cable has been lively this morning. He says there won't be a "spectacular giveaway" in the Budget. The Conservatives are caught between pleasing the public in an attempt to win the general election and continuing on their 'long-term economic plan'.
10:59 - We've got some more betting odds for you, this time from Labrokes. They think this will be George Osborne's last Budget as Chancellor - he's 8/11 on to not be giving next year's. That could either come in the form of a Labour win at the general election, or Westminster rumours of Mr Osborne moving to the Foreign Office, if the Conservatives win.
He's evens for a blue tie, but 3/1 for a purple tie! Nigel Farage would love that.
Matthew Shaddick of Ladbrokes said: "If the Chancellor wants to arrange a pre-budget giveaway, he just needs to stick a blue tie on. That would undoubtedly see a major redistribution of income from our pockets to those of Ladbrokes' customers."
10:48 - We've had a few more emails on the topic of business rates.
Peter Burgess, Managing Director at Retail Human Resources, a London-based recruitment company specialising in the retail sector, said: “The announcement that shops in the UK’s high streets could see their taxes cut after next year is welcomed news. Business rates for secondary retail sites are massively too high; the world has changed and secondary retail premises do not have the value they once did."
And Tim Ryan, Executive Chairman of UNA, an organisation owned by 12 of the UK’s largest insurance brokers, said: "The Chancellor is right to seize this opportunity to readdress the balance of our prospering economy and restore faith amongst UK businesses by reviewing the structure of how business rates are applied. This will reward the UK's growing and ambitious firms with the suitable tools to get on with their jobs and ensure plans become a reality. With greater clarity on business rates, SMEs will feel incentivised to make crucial investment decisions; we all know such plans are sometimes several years in the making."
10:42 - Email from Vince McLoughlin, partner at tax & business advisors, Russell New, said: “A review of business rates, coupled with the announcement that the outcome will be fiscally neutral, will restore the business community’s faith in the notion that the government is committed to recognise its importance to the growing economy. However, rather than a full scale review I am somewhat surprised that the government failed to freeze and cut rates for businesses of a certain size."
10:36 - David Cameron has left Downing Street for Parliament. PMQs will take place as usual at 12pm before Mr Osborne takes over at approximately 12:30.
10:16 - A lot of the younger generation on Twitter aren't expecting a lot of love from the Chancellor today. Are you expecting any positive news for the UK's next generation?
09:58 - So what else do we know about the Budget? A review of business rates was confirmed on Monday. But we're also expecting confirmation that the personal tax allowance - how much a person can earn before paying tax - will be raised to £11,000.
09:52 - The BBC have pulled together some rather interesting stats from Twitter: In the last 24 hours, more than 8,000 people have tweeted using #budget2015, 4,000 in the last three hours and 3,000 in the last hour.
"George Obsorne" is becoming increasingly frequent in tweets. In the last hour, over 1,000 people have mentioned his name.
The most popular hashtags seem to be #budget2015, #osborne and #georgeosborne (FYI, we're using #Buget2015)
09:46 - The Prime Minsiter has had his say on Twitter: "The highest employment rate in our history is not a dry fact, it means more people with the security of a pay packet and a brighter future."
09:44 - On those unemployment figures, work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith said: "This is a remarkable set of figures, which underlines this government’s success in backing businesses to create jobs, and supporting British people to seize those opportunities.
"As a country we should be proud that there are now record numbers of people in work, record numbers of job vacancies available, and the lowest unemployment rate since 2008."
09:42 - Business secretary Vince Cable is pretty confident about who is responsible for the falls in unemployment: "This is a sign that the long term decisions the Liberal Democrats have taken in government have created a more resilient economy. But we have also created a fairer economy with everyone sharing in the fruits of our recovery."
09:39 - It's looking like a very good morning for George Osborne, and there's nearly three hours before he delivers the Budget! The latest unemployment figures show another fall - this time 102,000 fewer people are out of work for the three months to January 2015. You can read the story here
09:17 - The founder of Cobra beer has been in touch. Lord Bilimoria had his say on what he wants from today: "To incentivise growing companies and startups to create jobs, I would like to see the Chancellor introduce generous National Insurance breaks for businesses that create employment. For the first two years of an employee's contract startups and growing SMEs should be exempt from employers NI contributions altogether.
"The current arrangement is nothing short of a tax on jobs. Both capital gains tax and Entrepreneur's Relief were far more attractive under previous government and, to encourage wealth and job creation, the Chancellor's budget should reduce capital gains to 18% and meaningfully enhance enhance Entrepreneur's Relief."
09:09 - Great news if you're in the Swansea/South Wales area - WalesOnline is reporting that George Osborne is set to announce that the government will enter formal talks over subsidies for the proposed Swansea tidal lagoon.
09:00 - With the general election looming, this could be George's (see!) last Budget as Chancellor. And speaking to BBC Radio 4, former Conservative chancellor Ken Clarke said: "Nobody remembers the individual measures, none of them are worth a vote... The key thing to get across is that he's done a good job of saving the country from economic disaster."
08:51 - By the way, you're probably going to see me use every possible (polite) form of referring to George Osborne today, both formal and informal! Expect to see him referred to as "Chancellor of the Exchequer" in one update, and "George" the next.
08:49 - If you're on the Labour mailing list, you'll have probably seen Ed Balls' pre-Budget email. In it, he says the Osborne will use today as a "cover-up of his terrible record as chancellor".
"Everyone knows the only way the Tories can make their sums add up is by breaking their promises again -raising VAT and putting our NHS at risk," the shadow chancellor said.
08:45 - BBC Economics editor Robert Peston says the UK's finances are set for a £6bn windfall by the end of the next Parliament. Expect Osborne to be grinning like a Cheshire cat when he reveals that news, probably followed by the line 'proof our long-term economic plan is working'.
08:27 - If the end-of-year paper tax return is also a huge strain for you, the Chancellor is set to announce a switch to a digital service. Full story here.
08:18 - In case you're wondering, Mr Osborne and his red briefcase are due to take the stage at 12:30, after Prime Minister's Questions. So you've got plenty of time!
08:15 - We promised you some of the more weird and wonderful aspects of the Budget. Did you know that William Hill are offering odds of 4/7 on the Chancellor to take more than 55 minutes to deliver the statement? Or that 8/1 on to mention Jeremy Clarkson? You can see what Budget odds William Hill are offering [nurl=http://www.freshbusinessthinking.com/news.php?NID=25402&Title=What+bets+can+you+make+on+The+Budget%3F#.VQk0C46sWH4]here[/nurl.
08:00 - Budget day needs a big breakfast! Now that's out of the way, we can crack on with all of the pre-Budget news you need.
07:04 - There's still quite a few hours before the Chancellor and his red briefcase make an appearance. So this morning we'll be updating you on what you can expect from the Budget, what businesses want from the Chancellor and some of the more weird and wonderful sides of the day.
07:00 - Good morning Fresh Business Thinkers, it's Budget day!