So, what did you think of the Recession Budget?

Toby Young, Journalist

"It seems politically quite astute, and I would have thought it has marginally enhanced Labour's chance of winning the next election, but there is a whiff of opportunism about it. Gordon Brown is ruthlessly exploiting the predicament we are in to raise public spending, not just to boost the economy but to put the Tories on the back foot. He has hiked the tax on those [earning] over £150,000 because it is difficult for the Tories to make that the focus of their attack. It will be interesting to see if that is purely gesture politics or if it actually raises extra revenue."

Fiona Weir, chief executive of Gingerbread

"Bringing forward the increases in Child Benefit and Child Tax Credit will help single-parent families struggling most in the current downturn, but this is not the additional investment needed to meet the Government's target of halving child poverty by 2010. Missing the target should not be an option. The target is achievable, but the PBR was a missed opportunity and much will have to be done next year. Time is running out. The members and supporters of the Campaign to End Child Poverty will continue to put pressure on the Government to keep its child poverty promise."

Frances Crook, Director, Howard League for Penal Reform

"While the Chancellor plans to borrow the money to keep the economy afloat, he should be looking to scrap plans to squander billions of pounds on Titan prisons, which will simply create more problems for local communities in re-offending, housing and infrastructure. The Government will not accept tax from prisoners and appears to prefer fostering idleness in the prison population rather than skills and a work ethic. The era of the prison revolving door must end. The cost to the economy in terms of re-offending isunimaginable and irresponsible."

Duncan Bannatyne, businessman

"I am very heartened by what Chancellor Darling announced. I think the VAT reduction will have an impact and boost spending. The Chancellor was honest about the fact that borrowing will rise sharply, and will have to be paid for by later tax increases, which is important. The 45 per cent top rate won't come into effect until after the next general election and I think it's unlikely to bring in much extra money. But frankly, what we need is to close the disgraceful loopholes that allow people to make billions in this country and not pay a penny in tax because they're not domiciled here."

Mike Benner, chief executive of Camra

"The reduction in VAT should have been passed on to pubs as well as everybody else. We are told the increase in beer duty is permanent, whereas the reduction in VAT is temporary. Pubs are popular in this country. But people are going to them less and less, and it is impossible for them to compete with the cheap alcohol sold as loss leaders by the supermarkets. Seven thousand five hundred pubs will close by 2012, costing thousands of jobs. The Government's failure to support them will undermine community life, ruin livelihoods and deprive people of an affordable night out."

Oliver James, author of "Affluenza" and "The Selfish Capitalist"

"If everybody is agreed that we have been spending too much money, how can spending more be the answer? The fact is we're already poisoned and Mr Darling wants to give us more poison. We've built our economy on debt. And now the demand is for us to spend yet more. We're in this mess because of selfish capitalism; why not try unselfish capitalism, which is what they do on the continent? We should, like Denmark, work a 35-hour week and redistribute the work. Then we should hammer the rich, so that all of us can learn to work less and buy less."

Dr Caroline Lucas, MEP, leader of the Green Party

"The Chancellor's plan to cut taxes to promote a consumer spending boom is short-term thinking in the extreme. Even if it works, it will simply ship money abroad, as most consumer goods are imported, rather than supporting jobs here in the UK. More seriously, it also represents a return to the vicious cycles of debt and over-consumption that caused the crisis in the first place. Not only is this economically unsustainable, it is environmentally unsustainable, driving a major depletion of natural resources and growth in climate emissions."

Claire Fox, director, Institute of Ideas

"It's so narrow-minded to think that the Government can buy their way out of the crisis. You can't get all this going at the level of consumer spending. Why not invest money into something productive, like long-term infrastructure on energy? Free handouts are completely superficial. A more serious approach would look at how we got into this position. Getting people spending and restoring credit to the financial system, are important measures – but until we work out why a period of unprecedented growth has ended, we won't be out of trouble."

John Sauven, executive director, Greenpeace

"We had hoped Mr Darling might fire the starting gun on a clean energy revolution that would unlock hundreds of thousands of green collar jobs and develop a new UK manufacturing base capable of exporting renewables and energy-efficient technologies to the world. This was an historic opportunity to invest billions in a low-carbon, high-technology future, but the Chancellor blew it. We can only hope that by the time he formulates the Budget itself, he will have grasped the potential of hi-tech climate solut-ions to get us out of this recession."

Dave Prentis, General Secretary of Unison

"An old proverb says that 'every journey starts with a single step' and Brown and Darling have taken that vital step with a serious package for serious times. These measures are a mark of Labour's experience and confidence. They have set a clear dividing line between them and the Tories, who are stumbling to take that first step. The tax cuts and credits will give much-needed help to the working poor, boost spending and restore business confidence. I'm sure the public will back measures to make wealthy individuals and corporations pay their fair share."

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