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Darling talks, UK growth slows

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Budget 2008 Alistair Darling, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, forecast slower economic growth in the UK this year when he delivered his first Budget speech in the House of Commons.

Darling said the turbulence in financial markets was having an impact all over the world. He said the problems, or total failure, of credit markets was a major risk to world economies. But he promised: "There will be no return to the interest rates of the early 90s.".

Darling said: "UK GDP growth is forecast to slow from three per cent in 2007 to 1¾ to 2¼ per cent in 2008, before picking up to 2¼ to 2¾ per cent in 2009."

Small business will get help to access finance made more difficult by current global problems.

Female entrepreneurs will benefit from an additional £12m fund.

Anne Glover, CEO of Amadeus Capital will investigate how to help private companies get more business from the public sector.

The government will spend £10m over five years on "Project Enthuse" to support the development of secondary science teachers.

The Chancellor warned that he would impose a tax on plastic shopping bags in 2009 if action was not taken by the supermarkets themselves.

More immediately, cigarettes go up by 11p per packet of 20, cigars by 4p per packet of five. Beer will cost 4p more per pint from midnight on Sunday, wine will rise by 14p a bottle and spirits by 55p a bottle.

The 2p per litre increase in fuel duty, due in April, has been delayed until October.

The full speech is available here.

Check back for more on the budget later today. ®

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