Brown said he wanted to create the best place in the world for multi-national companies while reducing VAT red tape for small businesses. He promised to spend billions on reducing the country’s debt, to cut debt interest payments and release more funds for investment in public services. However, the main focus of the speech, which will trigger most of the tax changes in next April’s Budget, was the attempt to head off a repeat of fuel blockades by promising hauliers cuts in fuel and vehicle taxation. He also announced rises in the state pension. While Brown ruled out extra taxation on the North Sea oil companies, he said there would be £100 million for hauliers to spend on replacing old and outdated vehicles and cuts in vehicle excise duty to match the cheapest rates in Europe.
By Helena Jones