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Chancellor unveils Budget
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- George Osborne has delivered his fourth Budget.
- He called it ''a Budget that tackles the economy's problems head-on, helping those who want to work hard and get on''.
- More cuts have been made to Whitehall budgets.
- The economy shrank at the end of 2012 and UK lost its AAA credit rating.
- Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was the same old story.
- Miliband says Osborne's economic plan is failing.
We're winding down the blog now, but see tomorrow's Daily Echo for reaction from the public and businesses.
NATALIE Greenfield, who runs independent Christchurch-based cake sales and wholesale firm Greedy Cakes with husband Steve, said: “As a small business which needs the flexibility of part-time staff – some of whom have young children – as well as employing full-timers, the budget brings welcome news regarding a £2,000 allowance on National Insurances contributions, increasing personal tax allowances and assistance with child care costs for working families.
“Of course, we still have to wait another year to benefit.
“We’re also pleased with the previously-planned increase in fuel duty being scrapped; fuel is our second largest cost, after wages, being a wholesale delivery business.
“Finally, anyone who works hard and pays their taxes will be pleased to hear that the Government plan ‘a significant crackdown’ on tax avoidance; we await with interest to see how this manifests itself.”
Not everyone is happy about the beer price cut...
The Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) said the Chancellor's decision to increase duty on spirits, while cutting beer duty, was ''unfair and incomprehensible'' and undermined one of Britain's major industries.
The Budget announcement penalises consumers who choose Scotch Whisky over beer, said the association.
A housebuilder has welcomed the help for first-time buyers announced today.
Mark Clare, chief executive of Barratt Developments, described the scheme as a ''major boost for homebuyers and house-builders''.
He said: ''Every additional home we build creates two new jobs. We are now gearing up to meet the increase in inquiries that we expect to see.''
Roger Hakes, director of Dorset childrenswear brand Kite, said: “We welcome the initiatives to reduce the amount of national insurance businesses will pay, since we can directly use these savings to further invest in hiring staff as we continue to grow our business.
"Scrapping the fuel duty rise scheduled for September is another bonus because we spend a lot on fuel for our sales team.”
Dr Tim Fox, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers said in response to the Chancellor George Osborne’s budget:
“Today’s budget includes some positive announcements for the energy sector including the new tax regime to support UK shale gas activities, the two projects identified as preferred bidders to move into the next stage of the Government’s Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) competition and more broadly the £3 billion investment in infrastructure projects for 2015/2016.
“But it is disappointing that the Chancellor was unable to provide more clarity on the much anticipated 'strike price' – or a guaranteed future electricity price – for power from the country’s first new nuclear project in 20 years, as this has the potential to pave the way for billions of pounds of investment into the UK economy and support thousands of jobs.
“It is particularly welcome that both a gas and coal project are through to the next stage of the Government’s CCS competition as the Institution has been calling for this for the past three years.
“Government must continue to encourage the development of a balanced power generation mix including renewables, nuclear and fossil fuels, ultimately abated with CCS.
“In addition, as we have previously highlighted, it is important for Government not to see shale gas as the silver bullet many claim it is. Shale gas is unlikely to impact greatly on energy prices in the UK and we must avoid becoming hostage to volatile gas markets by not being over-reliant on gas.
“Elsewhere in the budget, the Government’s support for energy intensive industries will help ensure that UK firms don’t lose out to companies located in countries who have less focus on climate change mitigation through greenhouse gas reduction.”
The CBI's reaction to today's Budget speech:
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said:
“The CBI was clear this Budget needed to deliver a good dose of business and consumer confidence, while being necessarily fiscally neutral.
“We’re particularly pleased our call for a focus on the short-term boost of housing has been heeded, alongside an increase in longer-term big ticket infrastructure spending.
“This was recognition it was a mistake to cut capital spending so sharply and that other growth-boosting measures were taking too long. But by shifting £6bn to housing and infrastructure, the Government has sowed the seeds for growth and jobs.
“An extra one penny cut in corporation tax will also make the UK one of the most internationally competitive locations in which to do business.
“The new obligation on the Pensions Regulator acknowledged that the huge commitment employers are making to sustain pensions for employees cannot be separated from the drive for growth.
“Small and medium-sized businesses will be particularly encouraged that there was money available for the Chancellor to cut the jobs tax through a new employment allowance. We also need to remember the impact of business rates on the hard-pressed high street.”
Nigel Smith, Managing Partner with Dorset and New Forest law firm Ellis Jones Solicitors, said: "The fuel, cigarette and alcohol concessions will be popular but they're hardly likely to turn around the economy.
"Many of the proposed changes don’t kick in until 2014,2015 or even 2016 when what is needed are immediate changes to boost business now.
"There's also very little, if anything, to encourage small businesses. In short, predictable but disappointing."
Julian Smith, Private Client Services Partner with Dorset chartered accountants and business advisers Princecroft Willis, said: “A good effort. Skilfully presented with some real practical measures which should help both companies and individuals but he's still heavily relying on the private sector to generate growth.
"Will it work? UK plc remains in the doldrums and it will take a lot more than this Budget to turn things round."
Chancellor George Osborne's announcement that the schools budget will continue to be ringfenced was ''somewhat misleading'', headteachers have said.
The protection only applies to schooling up to the age of 16, and excludes education for 16 to 19-year-olds, according to the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL).
They warned that post-16 education is already being ''seriously squeezed'', with sixth-forms and colleges forced to cut courses.
In his speech today, Mr Osborne said: ''The schools and health budgets will remain protected.''
But ASCL deputy general secretary Malcolm Trobe said: ''We welcome the confirmation in today's budget that school funding will be protected, but this is somewhat misleading in that it only applies to education to age 16.
''Options for 16 to 19 year-olds are being seriously squeezed by funding cuts and we have already warned that many school sixth forms and colleges will be forced to cut the number of courses on offer.
''In the long run small sixth-forms could become unviable but even large sixth-forms and colleges will face difficult decisions.''
He added: ''It is a fact that funding for 16-19 study will be significantly lower for pre-16, and much lower than funding that succeeds it in higher education. The 16-19 funding dip is a growing and unwelcome anomaly. Given that the education participation age is rising to 18, this is a worrying trend.''
Sam Acton, who runs Bournemouth-based care firm Domesitc Angels, said: “As a small business there were two or three highlights in today’s budget.
“The new ‘Employment allowance’ which cuts out the first £2,000 of employer national insurance liability reduces the cost of recruitment and establishment, as a growth business I very much welcome this support.
“The increase in personal tax allowance is great for my staff who are all part time flexible workers, the more of their earnings they can keep in their own pockets, the better and increases their spending power.
“Of particular importance the continuing decrease in corporation tax helps to offset cost increases in other areas, this enables Domestic Angels to maintain charges to clients rather than increase them.”
British Retail Consortium Director General Helen Dickinson said: “The support that was secured for customers wasn’t matched by direct help for high street businesses.
“Economic growth is the key to deficit reduction. This was the Chancellor’s opportunity to maximise retailers’ contribution to re-establishing growth by keeping more money in customers’ pockets and leaving retailers with more money they can invest.
“He’s done well for hard-pressed households but could have done more to help retail businesses to help him deliver jobs and growth.
“Moves on the income tax threshold and fuel duty are great for consumers’ confidence and ability to spend, which will help retailers and the wider economy. But, pressing on with a third-successive substantial business rates rise is very disappointing. Freezing rates would have made a real difference to our troubled high streets and the communities that rely on them.
“It’s now even more important that the Government delivers quickly on its existing commitment to reassess the formula for determining future years’ rates increases.”
Andy and Heather Martyn, both 43, are parents to Matthew 10 and Amber, 12, and live at Hengistbury Head.
Andy is self employed as a product design engineer and Heather works in business mentoring and support.
Heather said: “I think overall it was a pretty good Budget.
“It was a Budget that appears to have the deficit under control. It was good to see that the fuel duty rise was scrapped.
“We also liked the fact that there was a focus on the ‘aspiration nation’ and that the welfare system is having an overhaul.
“Support for innovation was also good and an increase in the personal tax allowance is a real positive, as is the reduction in Corporation Tax, it’s welcome for business and will go some way to helping growth.
“It was also good to see support for first-time buyers in the housing market.
“As a family that’s self-employed it was great to see the support and help for small businesses.”
Derek Heritage, who drives for United Taxis and is also the firm’s marketing director, said: “I’m pleased that there’s no increase in fuel and obviously Corporation Tax going down again is good for any company.
“There wasn’t much in there to get people out spending money. That’s holding things back and I think we have a long way to go in this recession.
“While fuel isn’t going up, there’s not much sign of it coming down either.”
Mike Clark, president of Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, has just told us: “I’m delighted with the news on infrastructure works, which will boost the construction sector and its associated businesses. There will also be a boost to employment in the industry.
"The £2,000 cut in employers National Insurance will encourage small businesses to take on new people. I would have liked improved concessions to encourage SMEs to specifically take on more youngsters not in employment, training or education.
"Increased personal tax allowances might help increase consumer spending, but much still depends on consumer confidence, which remains fragile. Whilst the UK has its problems, here in Dorset we remain mostly positive.”
Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: ''This is a Budget for the few by the few that attacks the many.
''Millionaires are days away from getting a £40,000 tax cut from the Tories, but George Osborne is using the Budget to attack hard-working public sector workers."
David I’Anson, partner with the Poole office of international accountancy and business advisory firm, said: “There are some important changes that are good news for Dorset businesses.
"A new Employment Allowance that helps small firms is good news for Dorset’s SMES and those thinking of taking on more employees as they look set to save £2000 a year in national insurance bills.
"Dorset’s infrastructure projects should benefit too thanks to the government changes in infrastructure spending which will mean an increase in spending by over 3 billion a year which will ring fence a single pot of funding to promote regional economic development.
"This will also mean local businesses will be able to have more of an opportunity to influence the government in how such money is spent through the Local Enterprise Partnerships.
"The Help to Buy Scheme is good news too for property builders in the area as this could help to boost house sales and get the property market moving again. All in all, some good measures for our business economies."
The Forum of Private Business says most firms will be hugely disappointed after the Chancellor gave no concessions on business rates.
Forum spokesman Robert Downes said: “Ask any small businesses what they wanted to see from this Budget and many will have said: ‘action on business rates’. We said before the Budget government couldn’t keep clobbering businesses with hike after hike, and unfortunately we haven’t seen that sentiment acknowledged today by Mr Osborne.
“It was really a case of enough already years ago, and April’s increase which now goes ahead as planned will mean rates have spiralled by a mammoth 13% in just three years. There aren’t many businesses who’ve seen income increase by anything close to that figure with sluggish growth and recession to contend with in the same period.
“Business rates have risen so much in just a few years they are the number one enemy to many small firms, and we believe are a big part of the problem behind the problems with our high streets too. It’s disappointing to see no action here – it was the obvious way to relieve pressures and is a missed chance for quick and easy relief for business.”
The British Property Federation has welcomed the Chancellor's announcement that from April 2013 the Government will extend First Buy to all those who aspire to own a new build home and create a mortgage guarantee for lenders who offer mortgages to people with a deposit of between 5 and 20 per cent.
Ian Fletcher, director of policy at the British Property Federation, said: "This is a strong package of help for housing.
"Annual transactions are half what they were and that has a knock on consequences for all those parts of the economy that rely on people moving. Helping people needing a deposit has for some time been cited as the missing piece of a coherent housing policy and both is therefore welcome."
Steve Mulvey, 47, lost his job as a bus driver in 2007 and has been out of work since.
He builds scale replicas of ships and hopes it might kick-start a small online business.
Steve, from Parkstone, said: “It’s a case of squeeze everybody tighter and give them a penny off their beer so they don’t complain.”
But he did see some light for people in positions like his.
He added: “The National Insurance help for small companies should help with unemployment, I would imagine they will be more inclined to take people on.
“I was disappointed that people with large amounts of money and millionaires get the big tax cuts. They seem to look after the top end – and they get their benefits almost straight away.”
Pensioner Penny Bartlett, 64, from Hamworthy, has given her reaction to the Budget.
She said: "The men among pensioners will welcome the beer price cut, but there's not much there for women.
"When I think about a pensioner who only has a state pension it will be unfair that only new pensioners get the new flat rate of £144 a week when it comes in.
"An important point to mention is to welcome the fuel duty freeze, that's helping everybody.
"It's important for the growth of the country and it effects everybody personally at the same time - most pensioners have a car."
Penny also said she would be looking more closely at a change in Social Care Assessments, where the qualifying level based on a person's assets has risen sharply, potentially helping a lot more people.
Penny concluded: "It was a quiet budget for pensioners, but the freeze on fuel tax is good for everybody."
Now we have our first bit of reaction from Dorset.
Lucy Cooper, president of Poole Chamber of Commerce and Trade, said: “This is ‘the Budget for people who work hard and aspire to get on’, and despite the predicted growth of the economy not transpiring, in Poole we have the highest number of start-up businesses and a can-do attitude to tackle unemployment and implement job creation strategies.
"We have to make this budget work for Business, get through the tough times and reap the rewards on the other side.”
Britain deserves better, says Miliband, as he sits down
Growth down, borrowing up, families hit, millionaires laughing all the way to the bank
All he has to offer is more of the same, he says
Failing economic plan from a failing Chancellor, says Miliband
He says Chancellor is saying the same he did three years ago. After all the misery and harsh medicine there has been no progress
Britain's families are paying the price, says Miliband
Deputy speaker has to keep telling MPs off for shouting
With this Chancellor, tomorrow never comes, says Miliband
He says the bad news doesn't stop under this Government
All he offers is more of the same. A more of the same Budget from a downgraded Chancellor, he says
Ed Miliband says every Budget that Chancellor brings to the House shows things are worse for the country. He says growth is down but Chancellor offers only more of the same
The Budget speech was around 55 minutes, by the way
Now Ed Miliband is on his feet
We will also be bringing you reaction from around Dorset as soon as we can.
He is likely to mention the Evening Standard palava, it is thought
We will now have a response from Labour leader Ed Miliband shortly
He commends the Budget to the House
If you want to work hard and get on, we are on your side, Chancellor says as he wraps up
New Employment Allowance will take the first £2,000 off the employer National Insurance bill of every company in the country.
Three million people will pay no income tax at all
"In this Budget the Government reconfirms its committment to raising the personal allowance to £10,000 and brings it forward to next year".
No income tax on first £10,000 of your salary from April 2014
Now onto personal tax allowances
He says those cuts won't make huge differences but will help families keep a little more of what they earn.
"I intend to maintain the planned rise for all alcohol duties, with the exception of beer."
Beer duty escalator abolished and beer duty cut by 1p "a penny off the pint" says Osborne. Kicks in on Sunday night.
Now we're onto alcohol.
Responsible drinkers should not pay the price for problems caused by others - 10,000 pubs have gone in the UK in past decade.
Fuel duty freeze over last two years has not been easy, he says. But he says he hears those who say families need it to continue.
September 3p fuel duty rise cancelled
Chancellor turns to duty rates now
Mortgage guarantee scheme will help those who can't afford a deposit
From earlier: Cap-on social care costs to come in in 2017 and protect savings above £72,000, with the threshold for means tested help raised from £23,000 to £118,000.
Help to buy a new home. Deposits are putting home ownership beyond many, says Osborne.
This Budget launches Help to Buy scheme. From next month equity loan worth up to 20 per cent of value of newly built home to anyone moving up the ladder. Interest free for first five years and repaid when home sold.
Tax free child care vouchers worth £1,200 per child and increased support for families with children on universal credit.
Flat rate pension of £144 a week brought forward to 2016
New tax free childcare vouchers for working families
Those who play by the rules should be supported, he says
Promoters of tax avoidance schemed will be named and shamed, says Osborne
Abolition of stamp duty on shares traded on growth markets like AIM.
Rich paying greater proportion of income tax revenues than they did under Labour, sayd Osborne. He says too many people got away with tax avoidance and abuse. Osborne says that has been stopped.
Britain is moving to low and competitive taxes, says Osborne
Single rate of Corp Tax to come in for first time since 1973
Corporation Tax to be cut yet again, in April 2015 the main rate down by another one per cent to 20 per cent. Lowest business tax or any major economy in the world, says Osborne.
Help for employees includes more generous shareholder status, CGT relief for sales of business to workers, tax help to return to help after sickness and a doubling to £10,000 for tax free loans for commuters' season tickets.
Capital Gains Tax holiday to be extended
''Generous'' new tax regime to promote early investment in shale gas.
New Support for small firms through Government procurement budgets, growth vouchers and controls on regulators' charges.
The Evening Standard will be apologising to the House of Commons, the Speaker and the Chancellor, it says
New tax incentives for the manufacture of low-emissions vehicles in the UK
Creating a low carbon economy should create jobs, not see them lost, says Chancellor
Extra £3bn a year on infrastructure from 2015/16
New limit to be introduced on ''annually managed expenditure'', which includes welfare budget, debt interest and payments to EU.
European budget deal secured by David Cameron saved the UK £3.5 billion according to OBR.
That Evening Standard front page is no longer online.
Military to receive full recommended increase in ''X-Factor'' payment in May and to be exempted from changes to progression pay.
''Substantial savings'' to be found in annual progression pay rises in parts of public sector.
Public sector pay cap of 1% extended by one year in 2015/16.
Chancellor seeks £11.5 billion savings in spending review for 2015/16, up from previously announced £10 billion.
The Evening Standard has apparently apologised for uploading its front page earlier before the Chancellor had even stood up
Saving jobs comes before pay rises, says Chancellor
Whitehall department budgets to be cut by 1% after £11 billion underspend this year, with protection for schools and health.
Government departments are underspending, it is predicted
12:49pm Wed 20 Mar 13
Agree with you Seasider, this government needs to stop wasting billion’s each year on foreign aid, White elephant MOD procurement projects, the bloat inefficient public sector and its completelt unsustainable pension system, trident replacement, illegal highly unpopular wars and the hideous corrupt, inept unelected EU.
Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee receives updated remit, but keeps 2% inflation target.
International aid will continue
Schools and health budgets protected from cuts
"If you want to bring borrowing down you have to control spending and this is what we have done," says George Osborne
Measures in today's Budget will be ''fiscally neutral overall''.
Proportion of national income spent by the state has fallen from 47.4% three years ago to 43.6% today and is on course to reach 40.5% by the end of the period.
Public sector net debt to be 75.9% of GDP this year then 79.2%, 82.6%, 85.1%, 85.6% in following years before falling to 84.8% in 2017/18.
12:47pm Wed 20 Mar 13
Whatever happens you can be sure we will have to dig in our deep pockets again.
OBR confirms Government on course to meet fiscal mandate one year early.
Borrowing predicted to fall from £108 billion next year to £97 billion in 2014/15, then £87 billion, £61 billion and £42 billion in following years.
Tax cuts in this Budget aren't borrowed, they're paid for.
We have set out the deficit plan and we're delivering that plan, says George Osborne.
Deficit has fallen from 11.2% of GDP in 2009/10 to a forecast 7.4% this year and is expected to fall to 6.8% next year, 5.9% in 2014/15, then 5%, 3.4% and 2.2% by 2017/18.
OBR revises up forecast for employment, with 600,000 more jobs expected in 2013 than this time last year.
OBR predicts GDP growth in 2014 of 1.8%, then 2.3% in 2015, 2.7% in 2016 and 2.8% in 2017.
Unemployment rate lower than when Government was formed in 2010
OBR output forecast reduced to 0.6% growth.
Employment rate growing faster than the US
OBR forecasts that UK will avoid a second quarter of negative growth and therefore a triple-dip recession.
Office for Budget Responsibility forecast for global economic growth revised down and for world trade revised down ''sharply''.
The problems in Cyprus are ''further evidence that the crisis is not over and the situation remains very worrying''.
"Huge effort" across Government to export wider around the world.
Eurozone expected to remain in recession throughout this year.
Deputy speaker has interrupted again. It has to be said that MPs behave like children sometimes...
This is a budget for people who apsire to own their own home, get their first job, start their own business.
It is for "the aspiration nation"
The deputy speaker has interrupted cheering and jeering MPs to, basically, tell them to shut up so the country can hear the Chancellor speak.
Nation is in a global race competing against new centres of enterprise around the world.
He says there is much more to do and today he will "level with people" about the hard road ahead.
He says it is taking a lot longer than anyone thought, but "we will get there"
This is a budget for people who aspire to work hard and get on, he says.
A budget for those who realise that there are no easy answers, just painstaking work to put right what went so badly wrong.
He says they have cut the deficit by a third, helped business create 1.25 million jobs.
George Osborne is on his feet.
We almost got to the end of PMQ's without someone making a quip about George Osborne joining Twitter today. "What do too many Tweets make...?"
Just a couple of minutes before the speech starts. I will type as fast as I can...
12:27pm Wed 20 Mar 13
The Seasider says
Tango Charlie wrote:The real lessons from history are more recent.... Greece & Spain over the last year. Cyprus this week.
More of the same. A history lesson.
From Not the 9 o'clock News.
The 'stats' that matter are:
UK £ 1.16 trillion national debt
UK £ 120 billion deficit this year
UK 90% debt: GDP
No chancellor can turn that around.... we are just tinkering with a ticking fiscal time bomb.
They reckon George will be taking 1p off a pint, the 3p fuel rise will be scrapped and the £10,000 tax-free earnings threshold will be with us this time next year.
We'll see if it's right...
This is interesting - the Evening Standard has posted its front page for tonight on Twitpic. We're guessing they've either got a crystal ball or have seen something that we haven't... http://bit.ly/147rHKQ
PM says the Chancellor is "getting the country out of the hole" left by Labour
Labour's Cathy Jamieson asked the PM whether he still thinks the cut to the temporary 50p top rate of tax next month is the right thing to do. He says higher earners are paying more tax than ever.
Conservative MP Harriet Baldwin says during PMQs that today's civil service strikes seem to be causing little disruption, which she says strengthens the case for further savings in the public sector.
UK Chancellor George Osborne appears outside 11 Downing Street with his red box ahead of Budget announcement http://t.co/qOTMWZRyjy— @BBCBreaking 20 March 2013
We're hoping to pull some interesting Tweets into the feed but we're having a few problems at the moment. Hopefully we'll get it sorted.
Ahead of the Budget the playground bun fight that is Prime Minister's Questions is about to begin.
In another 'bad timing' type-announcement, official figures revealed today showed average earnings growth fell to its lowest level for more than three years.
Employment figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed average weekly earnings rose by 1.2% in the three months to January, down from 1.3% between October and December last year and less than half the rate of inflation.
We're guessing that will be used by opponents today...
This morning the CBI reiterated its call for a confidence-building Budget with measures to boost the housing market at its heart.
It argues that housing - with its relatively short lead-in times – can provide a quick-win for the economy, and it is urging the Chancellor to introduce measures to benefit first and second-time buyers, householders refurbishing homes and smaller house builders struggling to access finance.
John Cridland, CBI Director-General, said: “The businesses I speak to all say that confidence is the missing ingredient in the economy.
“Businesses don’t need a swathe of new initiatives or radical policy shifts, but we do want to see a renewed sense of optimism, dynamism and delivery.
“We think a budget with housing at its heart will help deliver confidence to businesses and consumers. On the supply side we’re calling for 50,000 new affordable homes to be built; incentives for refurbishing empty houses; and extending the housing guarantee scheme to all types of housing.
“Meanwhile, to stimulate demand, the Chancellor should supercharge the NewBuy scheme to help second-time buyers struggling to get on the next rung of the property ladder or trapped in negative equity.”
The UK’s leading business group is also calling on the Government to bring forward its road spending and repair programme, as well as strengthening support for exporters and for smaller firms struggling to access finance. This package of targeted measures should form part of a fiscally-neutral Budget which would shift £2.2 billion from current spending to high-growth areas.
Here's 'that' picture, from the Press Association, of George leaving Downing Street. The famous red briefcase was replaced last year after it got into a bit of a fragile state from being used for a century.
Apparently incomes were higher in 1968 than they are today, a statistic to make you think.
Also, today civil servants in government departments, driving test centres, museums and galleries are staging a 24-hour strike in a row over pay, pensions and working conditions.
The Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) said up to 250,000 of its members will join the walkout, which will also hit jobcentres, tax offices, border patrols at ports and airports, and courts.
By the way, George Osborne's Twitter message this morning was his first. He has joined especially. Fellow Tweeters have already bombarded him with 'tips' on what he should do...
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Chancellor should be ''undoing the damage he has done to family budgets, investing properly in our infrastructure and getting growth moving''.
This morning the latest umeployment figures were revealed - and they're not ideal reading for the Government on Budget day - unemployment has risen by 7,000 to 2.52 million. Expect that figure to crop up when Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls gives his take on Osborne's speech.
Also speaking to us ahead of the Budget today, James Bawa, chief executive of Teacher’s Building Society in Wimborne, said: “I’d like some more focus on getting the regulator’s balance right between financial stability and encouraging growth in the financial services sector.
“House building is clearly key to unlocking the slumping property and mortgage markets, so I’d like to see an extension of the affordable home ownership schemes NewBuy and FirstBuy.”
Speaking ahead of today's speech, Jim Stewart, chief executive of Poole Harbour Commissioners, told us: “All the signs point to a sluggish recovery from the deepest recession most of us have seen.
“Mr Osborne should provide maximum encouragement for growth by providing business with more credit, by strengthening the Funding for Lending scheme.
“Companies need increased confidence in the economy before investing in their businesses.
“There should be a freeze on fuel duty, a reduction in corporation tax and increased investment in roads, particularly those that serve the port of Poole.”
Here's Dave leaving Downing Street earlier.
Later on today we hope to be bringing you reaction from a cross-section of people, including a pensioner, a family, an unemployed man, a local business and a taxi driver.
We'll also bring you reaction as it comes in from Dorset's business community.
As George Osborne leaves Downing Street, alongside the staples of fags and booze fuel will be one of the things people will be keeping an eye on today.
Steve Bennett, Poole-based Wyvern Cargo’s finance director, said that measures to stimulate investment by industry in the industrial infrastructure were key to Britain’s economic recovery.
He said firms needed certainty for investment planning and also called for the reintroduction of capital allowances on industrial buildings.
He added: “Regarding the national infrastructure, increased investment in the primary route network, including dualisation of the north-south road link between south-east Dorset and the M4 is urgently necessary and can be funded from the huge revenue generated by Britain’s draconian taxes on vehicle fuel.”
Mark Johns, managing partner with Dorset and New Forest chartered accountants and business advisers Princecroft Willis, said: “It’s essential the Chancellor sets a clear path to recovery and growth to increase business and consumer confidence.
“Proposals to stimulate capital projects will be welcome and lead to the creation of jobs in the construction industry which is still very much in the doldrums.”
George Osborne is expected to leave Downing Street shortly and do the usual 'red briefcase' shot.
Sam Acton, who runs Bourne-mouth-based home care company Domestic Angels, said: “I would like to see an acceleration in the reduction of Corporation Tax, especially for businesses within the ‘small profits’ rate.
“Overnight this would make the UK a more attractive location within the EU in which to invest and do business.”
Dorset landlord DWP Housing Partnership - formerly known as Dave Wells Properties - has urged the Chancellor to announce reductions in stamp duty charges when he delivers his budget.
MD Steve Wells believes this would help the entire housing market.
DWP Housing Partnership said it was keen to build much-needed housing in and around Bournemouth, and wants encouragement from the tax system to do that.
Mr Wells said: “A few simple things in the budget could really help the development of necessary social housing.
“A reduction in stamp duty, a tax break for landlords selling property in order to reinvest, and a more simplified planning process could radically improve the situation for millions.
“There is a desperate need for new social homes, especially in the South and South East and we want to help build them.
“But it is difficult to get developments up quickly at the moment which is why we want the Chancellor to act.
“These changes would help boost the property market and benefit the wider economy.
“Our development in Toluca Close off Cardigan Road in Winton shows the type of housing we want to build for our tenants.”
We've spoken to a variety of business leaders around Dorset ahead of the Budget.
Mike Clark, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry president, said: “As DCCI President I would really like to see the Chancellor recognise the work of the chamber movement by increasing the involvement of the network in services currently run through the public sector and from a business perspective, reduce employers' NI, the tax on jobs.”
Labour has said that Osborne's measures are failing and leader Ed Miliband said he wanted to see a change of course.
There will be a fresh round of cuts on Whitehall departments.
It is widely expected that he will delay or even scrap a planned 3p fuel tax hike this autumn and also abolish the beer tax escalator.
Mr Osborne is expected to offer help to hard-pressed families by speeding up progress towards a £10,000 tax-free personal allowance.
The Chancellor has already Tweeted this morning and David Cameron has left Downing Street earlier than usual for a Wednesday ahead of the big speech.
Good morning and welcome to our live coverage of Chancellor George Osborne's fourth Budget.
He is due to stand up at 12.30pm, following Prime Minister's Questions.
Until then we'll give you some details on what is expected and what businesses and people around Dorset hope to see.