Video: How will the UK budget affect Ireland?
UK CHANCELLOR George Osborne yesterday hailed the British recovery saying the economy was growing at a faster rate than any other advanced country.
Unveiling Budget 2014, Mr Osborne told a packed and rowdy House of Commons that growth was originally forecast to be just 0.6pc in 2013, but experts confirmed it grew three times as much.
Britain's budget watchdog predicted the economy would grow 2.7pc this year, Mr Osborne said. But that compared with a growth forecast of 2.4pc for 2014 made as recently as December in a budget update.
This, he said, was the biggest upward revision to growth between Budgets for three decades.
The Conservative MP unveiled his fifth and penultimate budget to the House of Commons as he stressed Britain had one of the most competetive business tax regimes in Europe.
He unveiled raft of pro-business measures including doubling the amount of lending available to exporters with interest on that lending being cut. Energy bills for manufacturers would be slashed, while a grant is being extended for small businesses to support 100,000 more apprenticeships.
Northern Ireland will receive its first Enterprise Zone near Coleraine in Co Derry in an effort to boost the region’s economy which is too heavily reliant on the public sector.
And Mr Osborne also pointed out that in two weeks time the UK rate of corporation tax will fall to 21pc, and drop further to 20pc next year.
The rate of the R&D tax credit for loss-making small businesses is being raised from 11pc to 14.5pc.
But there was also a major focus to help families and savers, with child care support, a fuel duty freeze, more tax-free savings and even a cut in bingo duty.
” In this Budget we make sure hardworking people keep more of what they earn – and more of what they save,” Mr Osborne said.
“The message from this budget is you have earned it, you have saved it and this Government is on your side.”
The Conservative-led coalition was given a pre-Budget boost after new figures showed the UK unemployment rate fell to 7.2pc
Just over 30 million people are now in jobs, up by 459,000 on a year ago, the highest figure since records began in 1971.
The Chancellor said the country's deficit had been slashed from 11pc before the Government took office to 6.6pc this year. The Budget deficit will be eradicated by 2018-2019, he predicted. But Ms Osborne said the public finances remained far from healthy and that the austerity plan needed to be adhered to as he delivered his near hour long Budget address.
Key budget measures include
:: Income tax allowance is increased to £10,500
:: Big reform of ISAS - British savings schemes which allow people to save a portion tax free. The annual limit for saving in an ISA tax free will now be £15,000.
:: £7bn package to cut energy bills for manufacturers.
:: Grant for small businesses extended to support 100,000 more apprenticeships.
:: A new twelve-sided £1 coin to be introduced from 2017
:: Help to Buy equity home loan scheme extended to 2020.
With just over a year until the General Election and Mr Osborne's Conservatives trailing the Labour opposition by about 6 points in polls, the chancellor says the economy still needs to be rebalanced toward exports and investment as it recovers.