Budget 'for the rich', say critics
Labour leader Ed Miliband went straight on to the offensive after George Osborne's Budget speech, asking for Cabinet members to admit if they were to personally benefit from cutting the 50p tax rate.
Quoting back one of the Government's favourite mantras to promote transparency, he urged them: "Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Just nod if you're going to benefit from it, or shake your head if you're not. Come on, we've got plenty of time."
No ministers took Mr Miliband up on request. Mr Miliband told the Commons the Budget marked the end of the Government's claim that "we are all in it together".
The Labour leader said the "fairness test" for the Budget was whether the Government used "every penny" to help middle income families that are squeezed. "He has failed that test," said Mr Miliband.
The Government has been accused of producing a Budget "of the rich, for the rich", as reaction varied from support for the business measures to outrage from union leaders
Rail union leader Bob Crow said the tax changes meant that a banker on half a million pounds will receive a "kick back" of £17,500, money "robbed" from public services and the neediest in society.
Paul Kenny, general secretary of the GMB, said: "The different treatment of people at either end of the income scale is stark. Ordinary families are losing their tax credits and child allowances and suffering pay freezes while people on top salaries of £150,000 to £1 million a year are getting cash hand outs."
Local Government Association chairman Sir Merrick Cockell, said: "Today's (Wednesday) confirmation that public spending will continue to fall beyond 2015 has to be accompanied with recognition that councils have so far delivered extremely demanding cuts, which others have failed to match.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of the Unison union, said: "The Chancellor's Budget has given a helping hand-out to his rich friends in the City and delivered a slap in the face to the unemployed and low-paid families.
Simon Walker, director-general of the Institute of Directors, said: "While any tax reduction is welcome, the Chancellor has not done enough to free business from the burdens and barriers that are holding economic growth back.