Chancellor lauds UK's half century
Gordon Brown has highlighted the healthy state of the UK economy in his Budget speech.
14:00 16 March 2005
Gordon Brown today told MPs that the UK economy had experienced 50 quarters of consecutive growth. Putting economic stability at the heart of his ninth Budget, Mr Brown said the UK had experienced the longest period of sustained growth "since records began in 1701".
Responding to criticism over his forecasts, Mr Brown said last year's economic growth was in line with his expectations at 3.1 per cent. Having proved his detractors wrong, the chancellor vowed to do the same again.
He anticipated continued growth throughout the coming year. The UK will grow at a rate of 3 per cent to 3.5 per cent this year and 2.5 per cent to 3 per cent, he stated, ahead of the EU and Japan.
The chancellor stated that borrowing would be 34 billion this year and would decrease in future years to 32 billion, 29 billion, 27 billion, 24 billion and 22 billion. The deficit will be 2.6 per cent this year and in future years would stand at 2.2 per cent, 2 per cent, 1.6 per cent and 1.5 per cent of National Income.
"In every year, our figures meet the Maastricht criteria," he added, stating nonetheless that a new euro assessment will not be initiated. The overall economic picture is therefore the "best for a generation", Mr Brown claimed, listing a series of statistics showing the growing wealth of the British people.
Unemployment seems intractable in many other countries, Mr Brown went on, but in the UK 2.1 million new jobs have been created since 1997. Moreover, there are 650,000 vacant jobs in the UK waiting for people to take them up.
The chancellor said his Budget would mean "every family in Britain is better off", claiming that by resisting the temptation to loosen the purse strings, the government would ensure long-term stability.