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UK austerity plan off track

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - 02:47

Dec. 5 - Britain will have to endure austerity until 2018, after the government said it had missed a key debt target. Finance Minister George Osborne said UK growth will be weaker than expected and introduced real-terms cuts to welfare. But there was some good news for business as he announced a one-percent cut to corporation tax. Joanna Partridge reports.

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Life in austerity Britain. More people now rely on food banks thanks to a worsening economy and government cuts. People like Andy White, who lost his job as a builder. SOUNDBITE: Andy White, Unemployed man who gets food from a food bank, saying (English): "Very humbling, the first time I came here I got really upset actually because I didn't know nothing about a place like this." The situation isn't likely to improve any time soon. Finance Minister George Osborne has admitted that Britain has missed a key debt target and growth will be weaker than expected - that's despite the positive spin in his half yearly budget statement SOUNDBITE: British Finance Minister George Osborne, saying (English): "Britain is on the right track and turning back now would be a disaster. We have much more to do." The figures are embarrassing for Osborne, who's led the government's austerity drive. He blamed slow global growth and says he won't change his plans, instead extending the programme of cuts until 2018. He says they're cutting the budget deficit, and the government is looking at three places to save money. SOUNDBITE: British Finance Minister George Osborne, saying (English): "We show our determination to do this fairly, with further savings from bureaucracy, from the benefits bill and from the better off." Economists have warned Britain could be in danger of losing its prized triple-A credit rating. But there was some good news for businesses like Alexander Dennis - corporation tax will be cut by one percent to 21% from spring 2014. The firm is western Europe's fastest growing bus and coach manufacturer. And is bucking the tough trading environment by selling to Hong Kong, New Zealand and North America. PTC Alexander Dennis is a British manfacturing success story. They now export 40% of what they produce here, up from just 15% a few years ago. And the government is calling on other companies to look to foreign markets. The order books are full for next year - they recently secured a deal for almost 1000 new buses, worth £220 million. CEO Colin Robertson says the government can do more to help firms grow. SOUNDBITE: Colin Robertson, CEO of Alexander Dennis, saying (English): "Any tax breaks, or any incentives to help invest further in technology development, bringing on new graduate trainees, you know really helping fund our technology-led universities to really accelerate the best and brightest talent I would really sign up for every day." The opposition Labour party has accused the government of economic failure. Other European countries are reconsidering their austerity programmes. The UK is still struggling with a huge debt pile, and if many more Britons are forced to rely on social welfare, it may take the government even longer to tackle that debt.

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UK austerity plan off track

Wednesday, December 05, 2012 - 02:47

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