The Chancellor Alistair Darling will today unveil his Budget - New Labour's first during a recession. The Budget speech begins at 12:30pm, after Prime Minister's Questions.
At 5pm tonight, Their Crisis Not Ours! is organising a picket of HM Treasury, 1 Horseguards Road. There is then a Q&A session in Committee Room 10 of the House of Commons at 7:30pm, with panellists including John McDonnell MP (LEAP Chair), Clara Osagiede (RMT), Cllr Susan Press (LRC vice chair), and Graham Turner. Grahams grim assessment yesterday was: "whoever wins power in 2010, the UK faces a multi-year tightening of fiscal deficits even more extreme than that seen in Japan."
We'll be blogging throughout the day - reporting and responding to the announcements in the Budget:
11:30am: Excellent piece by Prof Gregor Gall on Comment is Free arguing the case for a maximum wage. As Gregor argues, "The notion of maximum wages is based on the idea that no matter what job a person does and no matter how many hours they work, there is no possible way that an individual's skill, expertise, intelligence or experience can justify the payment of 100, 200, 300 or even 400 times the wages of the lowest-paid worker in the organisation at hand."
Gregor will be speaking at the LEAP Conference 'Capitalism Isn't Working' this Saturday.
11:55am: The Tax Research blog will be also be posting throughout the day, with a focus on Tax Justice issues. They'll also be twittering too - for those who understand that . . . John Christensen from the Tax Justice Network will also be speaking at the LEAP Conference 'Capitalism Isn't Working' this Saturday.
12:30pm: And with the political Punch & judy of Prime Minister's Questions out of the way, which focused heavily on the national debt and unemployment figures (over 2.1m by end of Feb), it's the Budget . . .
12:35pm: Unemployment figures today (for the period to the end of Feb09) show unemployment has risen by 177,000 to 2.1m. At this rate, LEAP estimates unemployment will reach 3 million by the end of the Summer. Figures also showed that private sector wages had declined by 0.5% in the three months to February. John McDonnell MP, LEAP Chair, said:
"Demand is being sapped from the economy by unemployment and pay cuts. This requires a massive Government intervention in the economy to protect jobs and stimulate demand. The Government must now rule out further cuts in public sector jobs."
12:41pm: Chancellor says UK economy will contract by 3.5% this year, but will be growing again by the end of the year - with growth of 1.25% in 2010, and 3.5% in 2011.
12:45pm: The Chancellor praises Jobcentre Plus and promises additional £1.7bn funding - but will it be through private providers or the more efficient Jobcentre Plus?
12:50pm: on housing, no social conversion scheme, as we suggested. A holiday for stamp duty on properties under £175,000, more money for shared equity schemes, and the homeowner mortgage support scheme.
12:56pm: borrowing £175bn this year, 12% of GDP - in his last Budget, Brown lambasted Tories for hit hitting 8% under Major . . .
12:59pm: Tax avoidance: with at least £25bn missing per year, the Chancellor says he will close loopholes to gain another £1bn over 3 years. Not good enough.
1pm: Redistributive taxation? It's a start - Darling is raising top tax rate to 50% for those earning over £150,000 (top 1% of earners) from next year.
1:05pm: £16bn of asset sales - that' privatisation to you and me - Royal Mail and Royal Mint. Thatcher sold the family silver, Brown's flogging the family gold
1:09pm: A hint of local authorities being allowed to build homes. Is that council housing? As always, let's see the fine print first . . .
1:15pm: Warm words on green investment, but a lot of reannouncements, and the big figures are loans or guarantees.
1:22pm: And it's over . . . I was waiting for a rabbit to be pulled out of the hat . . . Let the post-mortem begin