Gordon Brown will have to raise taxes by£7bn if he is to fulfil Labour's ambitious pledges to increase spending on health and education, according to a leading economic think tank. In its 'Green Budget', which audits the public finances before the chancellor's Budget, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said Mr Brown would have to raise taxes by the equivalent of 3p on the basic rate of income tax if he is to increase spending faster than the economy grows. As Mr Brown is bound by an election commitment not to raise the basic or higher rates of tax, the most likely source of extra income is National Insurance contributions, reports The Daily Telegraph(p1) and the Financial Times(p2).
Immigration is likely to account for nearly three-quarters of the population increase in the United Kingdom over the next 10 years, according to latest official projections released in the Social Trends report today. The figures suggest the population will rise gradually from around 60m people now to 65m within 25 years. Numbers are expected to peak in 2040 at 66m and then decline, reports The Guardian(p8).
SCIENTISTS PREDICT EXTENSIVE LONG-TERM FLOODING BEYOND THIS WEEKEND
As Britain prepares for a forecast weekend of floods, scientists today issue a dire warning that very wet winters will occur once every eight years this century. They say that consensus estimates of global warming, used to formulate international policy, 'severely underestimate the number of occurrences of extreme climate events,' reports the Financial Times(p6).
COUNCIL'S STAND ON WOBBLY BRIDGE SEVERAL STEPS NEARER RESOLUTION
About 2,000 volunteers from Arup, the architect Foster & Partners and from offices close to London's Millenium Bridge spent two hours walking along the structure while engineers watched for movements. The test is the largest to date and will be the final check using people before the bridge, now sporting a mixture of shock-absorbing devices, re-opens 'in a matter of weeks'. On the first day of opening in June 2000 it twisted up to 20cm as crowds queued to cross, forcing Southwark LBC to close it two days later, reports the Financial Times(p2).
by assistant editor Neil Watson