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UK News

The Budget: Christian charities respond

by Antony Bushfield

Delivering one of his most difficult Budgets yet, the Chancellor was forced to admit that government debt will rise as a proportion of GDP this year - breaking a key rule he had set himself - and growth forecasts have been sharply revised down.

But he insisted the UK was "well placed" to handle the worldwide slowdown and the deficit would still be wiped out by 2019-20 - thanks in part to another £3.5 billion of spending cuts.

PA Wire

John French, a member of the Association of Christian Financial Advisors, said "drastic measures" are still needed to address some of the problems the UK faces.

While a new tax on buy-to-let properties would bring house prices down to an extent, only building more homes would produce significant change in the market for first-time buyers, he said.

"There's a new savings allowance for low paid workers, as for how many people will benefit from that is yet to be seen but there are some possible winners there.

"The corporation tax is due to fall to 17% from 2020 so that's a win for companies there. So it's a bit of a mixed bag there."

The Budget 2016

- An additional £3.5 billion of spending cuts will be made by 2019/20

- Corporation tax will be cut to 17% by 2020

- A new sugar tax will be imposed on the drinks industry

- Moves towards greater devolution

- An increase of 0.5% in Insurance Premium Tax to raise £700m for flood defences

- Fuel duty is frozen for the sixth year in a row, while duty on beer, cider, whisky and other spirits will also be frozen

- Isa limit will increase to £20,000 a year for everyone

- Tax free personal allowance is being raised to £11,500

The freeze in fuel duty was "going to help with the monthly savings", he said.

The Chancellor George Osborne increased the stamp duty for buy-to-let landlords - people buying properties not intended to be their own home - by 3% per band.

Bishop James Langstaff, chair of Christian group, Housing Justice, told Premier's News Hour he had concerns about the lack of attention on housing.

PA Wire

"Housing went up the political agenda as the election went through (last year), and I think that's partly because we're now living in a situation - in terms of our economy - where it's actually the children of relatively affluent parents who are finding themselves unable to get on the housing ladder, and finding themselves not even able to pay rents in some parts of London, and these are people in professional jobs very often, with degrees and such like.

"So actually there's a wider group of society who are aware now of housing issues.

"They may not be aware of the really sharp end of it but they are aware that the housing economy is deeply flawed and imbalanced."

Premier's Political Editor Martyn Eden said there will be more cuts to come.

"There will be continued reforms to the benefits system," he added.

Premier's Political Editor Martyn Eden speaking to Anna Cookson:

Listen to Premier's Alex Williams speaking to John French:

Bishop James Langstaff speaking to Premier's Antony Bushfield:

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