Thursday, April 23, 2009
The United Kingdom Chancellor of the Exchequer, Alistair Darling, yesterday announced the 2009 budget. The budget is an annual audit of the nation’s finances, and decides what should be done with taxpayers’ money.
The chancellor fell under scorn for his GDP growth forecasts, which are considered to be too optimistic in predicting that Britain will bounce back from its weakest economic performance since the end of the second world war. Darling forecast GDP growth of 3.5% in 2011, even after he was made to downgrade his predictions. He expects a record expansion of 1.25% next year, but chief UK economist Howard Archer disagrees, calling Darling’s predictions “mildly optimistic in the near term and much more optimistic in the long term.”
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Was the increase in the ISA limit “too little, too late”?
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His plans for savers and pensioners, however, were commended by many, though was also criticised by a large portion of the populace. In the budget, Darling increased the amount that savers can put into an Individual Savings Account (ISA) from £7,200 to £10,200, of which £5,100 can be saved in cash. These increased limits will be available only to people aged over 50 from 6 October this year, and will not be available to everyone until 6 April next year. A number of financial experts described the move as being “too little, too late”, and Rumina Hassam, of price comparison website uSwitch.com, said: “The government’s decision to increase the cash ISA limit by £1,500 to £5,100 for the over 50’s is a just another kick in the teeth for the majority of savers as they will have to wait even longer to benefit. There is no doubt that savers have been sacrificed as a result of the plummeting base rate, bringing savings rates to an all time low.”