Low-earners: Tax credits for poor to rise by £4

Those on low incomes will be thinking they got a little more carrot than stick in the Budget. Low-paid parents with young children under two will have their tax credit entitlement rise by £4 from 2012.

Fiona Weir, the chief executive of charity Gingerbread, said: "Children in single-parent households are still twice as likely to be poor compared to couple families, so this extra money for parents with children aged two and under is particularly good news for them."

And workers on the national minimum wage will find that their pay rates will rise by 2.2 per cent from £5.80 to £5.93 per hour.

As for the estimated 1.75 million people in the UK who do not have a bank current account, they have been promised that banks will supply them with one within five years. Having a bank account is vital to securing lower-priced utilities because it allows holders to set up direct debits.

To date, the extension of banking to some of Britain's poorest has just been an industry aspiration and the rate of opening of basic bank accounts has slowed of late.

Those low-earners who want to save could benefit from the launch in July of the government's Savings Gateway scheme, confirmed in the Budget. This will top up the savings of low earners by 50p for every £1 saved. Younger people, under 24, out of work or education are to have the government guarantee of being found work or access to training extended till 2012. But so called "sin taxes" on beer and tobacco, which hit low earners proportionately the hardest, are on the rise. Beer duty rises by 2 per cent, cigarettes go up by 1 per cent and will rise 2 per cent above inflation each year until 2014.

But a3p rise in fuel duty due in April will now be staggered; so a penny goes on duty in April, a penny in September and a final penny in January.

Did you know?

Budget Day used to be the Commons' equivalent of Ascot. Men wore top hats and tails and women wore fancy hats.

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