Budget 2014: Live Updates Of George Osborne's Budget

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GEORGE OSBORNE
Scott Heppell/PA Wire

George Osborne delivers the penultimate Budget before the 2015 general election at 12.30pm today, we will be keeping track of some of the build up and reaction throughout the day here.

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George Osborne's decision to cap spending on benefits in the next parliament at £119 billion has been dismissed as "smoke and mirrors", by a leading economist.

Jonathan Portes, head of the National Institute for Economics and Social Research (NIESR) and a former Cabinet Office chief economist, told the Huffington Post UK that the Chancellor's Budget announcement on Wednesday failed to specify how it would be achieved.

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Ed Miliband now has the tricky job of responding. He says that said in his hour-long statement, the chancellor "did not mention one central fact - the working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories, living standards down month after month, year after year".

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You can read George Osborne's Budget statement in full here.

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And that's it. Osborne sits down after a 55 minute Budget statement.

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Lib Dem MPs cheer happily as Osborne announces the income tax threshold will rise from £10,000 to £10,500. It's their key policy and do not want to let the Conservatives try and claim credit.

The party's press office Tweeted: "Looks like @George_Osborne has gone native! #libdemwin." The Lib Dems added:

The Budget has confirmed victory for the Liberal Democrats in our campaign to deliver an £800 tax cut for people on low and middle incomes.

Cutting income tax by £700 – by raising the tax-free allowance to £10,000 – was the top priority on the front page of the Liberal Democrat manifesto. That comes into effect next month and the Budget today has confirmed that the Liberal Democrats have now been able to go even further. The tax-free threshold will rise to £10,500 next year, giving a tax cut of £800 for 25m working people since 2010.

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Osborne reveals that inheritance tax will be waived for emergency services personnel who "give their lives protecting us". He will also waive VAT on fuel for air ambulances and inshore rescue boats.

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Osborne announces an additional £140 million made available for repairs and maintenance to flood defences. and an additional £200 million for potholes.

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Osborne crowbars a joke about the Magna Carta into his Budget statement, compares Ed Miliband to King John. "A weak leader who had risen to the top after betraying his brother, compelled by a gang of unruly barons to sign on the dotted line."

Miliband couldn't help but smile. Harriet Harman thought it was hilarious, or at least, hilariously bad.

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Osborne announces that the welfare cap will be set at £119 billion for 2015/16, rising to £127 billion by 2018/19, with only the state pension and cyclical unemployment benefits excluded.

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George Osborne tells the Commons that the OBR predicts there will be a Budget surplus of 0.2% in 2018/19.

The chancellor warns MPs that "faster growth alone will not balance the books" and says "there will have to be more hard decisions, more cuts".

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Osborne tells MPs that the Office for Budget Responsibility confirms economy grew by "three times as much" as forecast 0.6% in 2013.

The OBR predicts 2014 GDP growth of 2.7%, then 2.3% in 2015, 2.6% in 2016 and 2017, and 2.5% in 2018. Upward revision of GDP figures means UK economy will be £16 billion larger than OBR forecast four months ago.

The chancellor tells MPs: "The biggest risk is clear - abandoning the economic plan that is working."

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Osborne tells MPs his Budget is about "building a resilient economy". He says: "The economy is continuing to recover and recovering faster than forecast... we held our nerve, we're putting Britain right. But the job is far from done."

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Here we go. George Osborne is up and delivering his Budget. Tory backbenchers greet him with a big cheer. He has a blue tie on.

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During a PMQs ding-dong with a Labour backbencher, Cameron told MPs: "I'm not the world's biggest expert in campaigns." Which while perhaps true, it may not be the best thing to remind his backbenchers of that.

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George Oborne is looking quite focused here, as David Cameron kicks of the pre-Budget PMQs.

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The Budget statement will begin at 12.30, the chancellor arrived in parliament a few minutes ago. Before he gets up to make his statement there is the small matter of prime minister's questions at 12.

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The Times today reports on how George Osborne is under pressure to consider a raft of different proposals in his Budget to help squeezed "middle earners", with Tories up in arms about the impact that taxes are having on those who earn more than £42,000. One unnamed backbencher tells the Times: “This shows they are hitting the middle.”

Where is 'the middle'? Is it really in the region of £40,000? According to the Office for National Statistics, the average* Briton earns just £517 a week, equivalent to £26,884 a year.

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That's enough about the coin and it's 12 sides. We are more interested in the 12 sides to the chancellor, so here we go...

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There is a lot of speculation (mostly baseless) this morning about what George Osborne's Budget 'rabbit' could be. We're thinking he could merge National Insurance and income tax. If he doesn't do that, then ignore this.

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The new 12-sided pound coin already has a parody Twitter account. Obviously.

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George Osborne has received a well-timed political boost as the latest official figures show that the number of people out of work fell by 63,000 to 2.33 million. The latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed that the number of people in work was up 105,000 for November 2013 to January 2014, bringing it to 30.19 million.

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