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RESPONSE to the Chancellor’s budget is starting to come in from local politicians and prospective candidates from around the Borders. Here’s what they have to say:

Borders MP and Secretary of State for Scotland, Michael Moore MP, has hailed today’s statement from the Chancellor as a Budget for the many, not the few, following the announcement of a rise in the income tax threshold.

The Chancellor announced in his Budget statement that, from April 2013, the Personal Allowance will increase by a further £1,100, taking the limit to £9,200. This means that more than 45,000 people living in the Scottish Borders will be £550 a year better off, with a £220 tax cut in 2013 on top of cuts of £200 last year and a further £130 next month. In addition, 4,700 people in the Borders will have been lifted out of paying income tax altogether.

Speaking immediately after the Budget, Michael Moore said: “As a Liberal Democrat, I have campaigned for years for a fairer taxation system, where help is provided for those who need it most and where the richest pay their fair share. I am delighted that we are delivering on our party’s pledge to go further and faster on raising the personal tax allowance.”

Other key measures include a cut in corporation tax in 2012 to 24 per cent and a National Loan Guarantee Scheme announced yesterday to help smaller businesses receive cheaper loans. Commenting on these measures, Michael Moore said: “In these difficult economic times it is vital that businesses are given a helping hand. The reduction in corporation tax to 24 per cent means we have reached our original target for this Parliament, and the planned further cut to 22 per cent in 2014 will provide an extra boost further down the line. These measures will provide real help to our local businesses.”

Michael Grieve, prospective Labour candidate for the Hawick and Denholm ward of Scottish Borders Council and secretary of Berwickshire Roxburgh and Selkirk Constituency Labour Party

“This Budget is a budget which rewards the rich and does nothing for the people of the Scottish Borders. The Chancellor has shown that he is the friend of big business and not the man on the street. He has cut Corporation tax. He has cut the high rate of tax from 50p to 45p.

“The complacent Liberal Democrats have sat back and let this Tory-led Government carry out their policy of slash and burn economics. They are cutting too fast and too deep. The removal of National bargaining for public sector pay will effect those in the Borders working in Government departments such as Job Center plus.

“The implications of the Welfare Reform Bill when they hit in April 2013 are estimated to have the effect of reducing the benefits Scottish Borderers will get by between £6.6million and £8million. This will have a severe effect on both the Borders economy and place a huge burden on an already stretched Scottish Borders Council. It will push more people into poverty – the recent child poverty figures showed an average in the Scottish Borders of 13 per cent, while the highest was 26 per cent in the ward I live in, Hawick and Denholm.

“I was disappointed that there was no mention of any step to reduce fuel poverty which effects many in the Scottish Borders.

“The Government is being very hypocritical in using duty to try to discourage smoking while not using it to discourage drinking. How can they then argue along with the SNP that minimum pricing is the magic bullet to reduce alcohol consummation? Minimum pricing is a tax on the poorest to give to large retail companies and drinks companies.

“This is a budget for business and no-one else. Unless people have money and jobs there won’t be growth.”

John Lamont MSP

“What the Chancellor announced today is a great budget for the Scottish Borders which will see a huge difference made to the lives of those across the region.

“By increasing the wage at which people start to be taxed, many low income earners will now not have to pay any tax. This will have a knock on effect for thousands more in the Borders as the amount of tax they have to pay is reduced at the same time.

“It was also hugely encouraging that the £5.30 rise in the state pension was confirmed. Elderly people across the Borders have been forced to stretch their pension further and further to cover rising costs of energy and other bills. From April they will now receive more financial help and start to receive the largest ever cash increase in the Basic State Pension ever.

John Lamont MSP added: “There is good news for families in this budget as far more households in the Borders will now qualify for child benefit after the threshold was lifted. At a time when there is a lot of pressure on household budgets this will provide help when they need it most.”

We want to hear what do you think of George Osborne’s Budget. Do you think raising the personal allowance tax was a good move? Or will you be hit by the ‘granny tax’. Get in touch and let us know how this budget is going to affect you, Email: susan.windram@tweeddalepress.co.uk