Martin Rees, President, Royal Society
This Government has a strong track record in investing in science and technology, and I just hope that Alistair Darling has done enough to ensure we retain the momentum that’s been gathered over the last 10 years. It’s important to realise that the tap can’t be turned on and off with regard to science and technology: it’s a long-term investment. We are fortunate to have more top-rate universities in this country than in any other country apart from the US, but it’ll only stay that way if they are supported. It’s important that we in the UK recognise that science and technology are the keys to economic recovery.
Emma Soames, Editor, Saga Magazine
The big thing that I was hoping for, and I think my whole generation was hoping for, was some help with the very low interest people are getting with their savings. We hoped the Government would take off the 20 per cent tax rate, which hasn’t happened. It would have helped a great many people who might not be in deep poverty, but have saved all their lives and are now having a very hard time. People are being punished for prudence. However, I was delighted that grandparents who care for grandchildren will get national insurance credits. There was also good news on the winter fuel allowance.
Paul Staines, Guido Fawkes, political blogger
The tax hike wasn’t unexpected, but as soon as the 50 per cent rate was announced, emails pinged into my inbox from City mates along the lines of “That’s it, I’m off to Switzerland”. What is Labour saying to those who work hard and become successful? “We will punish you” seems to be the message. This Budget is very unlikely to raise additional revenue. It is just playing politics with the Tories to try and get dividing lines. Well-paid London media executives will not like it, so it may backfire badly. Still it is good news for Dublin and Dubai. They will welcome entrepreneurs with lower tax rates and open arms.
Marilyn Stowe, Celebrity divorce lawyer
I was absolutely shocked at the tax hike. I feel the people who are really trying to build Britain have been badly hit by this I’m particularly thinking about the young entrepreneurs earning around £100k. These are people who have been honestly paying their taxes and grafting for the country. It’s shocking. I think because of this, Labour will be decimated at the next election. I also don’t understand the incentive for the car-crushing thing. The other thing is the hit on the pensions: it makes me wonder what the point of having a pension is, and whether there’s another way of saving for my retirement.
Julia Neuberger, Liberal Democrat peer
I think far too little money has been put into housing. This Budget was a golden opportunity to free up social housing by investing in it, and it’s a real shame it’s been missed. Everybody has been saying we need to spend a lot of money to keep people in work, and this was the perfect chance. The money that has been given is better than nothing, but when you actually think about it, it’s not going to build that many houses. I have huge sympathy for Alistair Darling because he’s in a difficult position, but if you say that what you’re going to do is keep industry going, then construction is the one I would have chosen.