PENSIONERS, pub goers and workers were the big winners in today's budget - as well as Worcester's Gala Bingo hall.

Chancellor George Osborne delivered a budget based around tax cuts, cheaper booze, a freeze in fuel duty and help for savers.

It was also aimed at chasing the grey vote - with a new "pensioners bond" being launched for over 65s, allowing them to save up to £10,000 with a return rate of four per cent.

The amount workers will pay before tax is going up to £10,500 from April 2015, a rise of £500 which mean the average person in employment being £800 better off.

The 40p tax rate threshold, meanwhile, will rise from £41,450 to £41,865 next month and up to £42,285 next year.

Beer duty has been slashed by 1p for the second year running, duty on ordinary cider has been frozen while taxes on cigarettes will rise two per cent above inflation.

The 10p savers tax was also scrapped completely in a bid to help millions of Brits stuffed by low interest rates.

A new £20 million funding pot has also been announced for cathedrals, a fund which Worcester Cathedral could tap into.

During his address in the commons, Mr Osborne also revealed growth forecasts for the economy have been revised upwards to 2.7 per cent for 2014, with the Office for Budget Responsibility saying the UK is outstripping all advanced nations.

Worcester MP Robin Walker said: "There was a lot of good news in there, it wasn't a shock budget about big headlines but a lot of small, positive things.

"The stuff for pensioners is great because that's been a difficult issue, and the tax allowance going up again is very good news.

"Fair-dos, it was a Lib Dem policy but many of us on this side were calling for that for a long time and it's something that's really been taken on."

In a surprise move Mr Osborne also said he was slashing bingo hall tax in half, down to 10 per cent, saying the numbers of them had "plummeted by three quarters over the last 30 years."

It came after 300,000 people signed a petition calling for the taxes to be reduced.

Gala Bingo Hall in Foregate Street, Worcester was just one of the backers to it.

Miles Baron, chief executive of The Bingo Association, which represents the centre, said: "This is the most fantastic news - everyone is absolutely delighted.

"The decision to reduce duty by 10 per cent means bingo clubs will get an even bigger boost than we had hoped for."

There is also £200 million for pothole repairs and £140 million towards flooding alleviation.

West Worcestershire MP Harriett Baldwin said: "There are some great pieces of news for hard-working local people in this budget.

“I have many pensioners and savers in my constituency and I know that they will welcome some of the important changes to pensions rules and tax free savings.

“I would particularly like to congratulate the chancellor for introducing the new pensioner bond next January which will offer a better return than any equivalent in the market today.

“Fuel duty has been frozen again and petrol prices are now 20 per cent cheaper than they would have been with Labour’s fuel duty escalator.

“The chancellor told us that the typical taxpayer will be better off by £800 after personal tax thresholds were increased to £10,500.

“There is great news for businesses which export and also a commitment to create 100,000 apprenticeships.

“Overall, I think that this is a budget which will leave most people better off and reward hard-working people while creating the right conditions to create new jobs and continue on the important task of reducing the deficit."

In the commons Mr Osborne said it was a budget aimed at "turning the country around" and insisted it was about "helping ordinary people" keep more of their cash.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said it was "a recovery for the few, not the many" and claimed the Tories long-term plan is "tax cuts for the richest".

Councillor Joy Squires, Worcester's Labour parliamentary candidate, said: "Standards of living have fallen sharply and steeply since this Government came to power and there is little in today’s budget that will change that.

“People are still worse off than in 2010. The country needed a budget that tackled low wages, low skills and insecure work.

“A budget that tackled the housing crisis, took on the banks and the energy companies.

"That didn’t happen today - for the thousands of low paid workers in Worcester, there’s still no light at the end of the tunnel.”


A FAMILY in Worcester say they have been left with mixed views on the budget - and insist it's not "for working people".

Mandy Anderson, 49, lives in Highland Road, Tunnel Hill, with husband Carl, 44 and son Ross, 12.

Mrs Anderson, a cleaning supervisor at Vue Cinema in Worcester, said: "The personal allowance going up by that much is great for us but the question I've got is, why do we have to wait?

"Why not put it up to £10,500 now. While it is good news, so many people are having to do two or three jobs to get by.

"So in that sense I don't think it's a budget for working people.

"I don't see why hard working people can't get to keep even more of their money."

She also told your Worcester News the family wanted more help with their ever-rising energy bills.

The family also say they wanted less of a focus on savers.

"I'd like to have seen more said on our energy bills, that's the kind of thing working people need," she said.

"A lot of the budget seemed to be focused on savers but a lot of people can't afford to save money, they get by with what they've got.

"The tobacco rise is a good one, but whether it will stop people smoking I don't know."

Mr Anderson lost his job as a lorry driver last year but is now working as a porter at the Bank House Hotel Golf and Country Club in Bransford Road.

In recent years Mrs Anderson has worked two or even three jobs but has reduced to one.

Mrs Anderson said: "We are working hard for ourselves but we hope interest rates stay low.

"The concern for us is if that goes up next year."


BUSINESS leaders in Worcestershire have welcomed the budget - saying it should help keep the economy on the right path.

A screening of the budget was staged at The Hive in Worcester today, organised by the Federation of Small Businesses.

As well as the aim of creating 100,000 new apprenticeships Mr Osborne announced more funding for the Help To Buy scheme, saying he wants to see 200,000 new family homes built in Britain to boost the construction industry and support families.

Rick Abbotts, chairman of the Worcestershire branch, said: "The budget has been broadly positive and I’m encouraged to see some obvious moves to support the country in manufacturing our way into a healthier economic situation.

"The cancellation of the proposed increase in fuel duty will help every single business and consumer across the UK.

"More strategically, the focussed support to exporters and the construction sector will go a long way to support businesses both large and small.

"Locally, the release of new funding to help areas subject to flooding is very welcome and I hope that we shall see some serious improvements to infrastructure so that homes and businesses are protected from the extremes in the weather we’ve seen over recent years."

The 1p cut in beer duty was welcomed by landlord Colin Kenwrick, who runs The Berkeley Arms in School Road, St John's.

He said: "It will make a difference, any cut always does.

"Things are going ok because we have a good core of regulars in here.

"But costs do go up and my accountant always says we can't absorb it, so it gets passed onto customers.

"So the cut is good news."

Pensioner Betty Davies, 71, of Fern Road, Worcester, said: "If you like to save I think it's pretty good - I like the things for older people."


The personal allowance will be raised from £10,000 to £10,500 in April 2015.

The 40p income tax threshold to rise from £41,450 to £41,865 in April, and another one per cent to £42,285 in 2015.

Duty on bingo will be cut to 10 per cent, and the duty on fixed odds betting terminals will be raised to 25 per cent.

The two per cent annual 'above inflation' tax rise on tobacco will continue in the next parliament.

Alcohol duty will rise in line with inflation, apart from scotch whisky and ordinary cider, duty on which has been frozen.

Beer duty will be cut by another one pence, and fuel duty is frozen.


Growth estimates for 2014 have been upgraded from 1.8 per cent a year ago, and 2.4 per cent in December to 2.7 per cent now.

That is the biggest upward revision to growth between budgets for at least 30 years.

The Office for Budget Responsibility predicts 2.3 per cent growth in 2015, 2.6 per cent in 2017 and 2.5 per cent in 2018.

2014-15's deficit forecasts are cut from 6.8 per cent to 6.6 per cent of GDP, and are on course to be eliminated by 2019.

Annual rises in welfare spending have been capped at no higher than inflation, unless a parliamentary vote to overturn that rule succeeds.


The tax-free limit for ISAs has been increased to £15,000, with stocks and shares allowances merged.

Pensioners will not have to buy an annuity and will be able to draw down as little or as much as they like, with tax restrictions on access to pension pots removed.

The 10p savers rate has been scrapped.

A new pensioners bond is launching, available from January for all over 65s.

It will have possible savers rates of 2.8 per cent for a one-year bond and four per cent for three-year bonds.

Taxable part of a pension pot taken as cash on retirement to be charged at 20 per cent, down from 55 per cent.


Help to Buy Scheme has been extended until 2020 and £140 million is going towards new flood defences.

New Government prospectus will be published to encourage the creation of garden cities.

Investment allowances for businesses doubled to £500,000 and extended to the end of 2015 at a £2 billion cost.

Export finance doubled to £3 billion and interest rates on lending schemes cut by a third.

Under-21s have been taken out of employers' national insurance contributions.

* What do you think? Leave your comments below. More budget news and reaction will feature in your Worcester News tomorrow.