Beer cheer despite Osborne gloom

George Osborne delivering Budget on TVBudget 2013: What it means for you

The Chancellor has cut the price of beer and had some good news for taxpayers as he delivered his 2013 Budget.

But he also painted a gloomy picture for the economy, as the official growth forecast was slashed in half and George Osborne admitted the recovery was taking "longer than anyone hoped". He confirmed that September's planned fuel duty rise has been scrapped.

He said a planned 3p rise in beer duty tax was being scrapped and replaced by a 1p cut on a pint of beer.

And he brought forward a rise in the personal allowance to 2014, meaning no income tax is paid by anyone on the first £10,000 of their earnings.

He also announced a new employment allowance which will take the first £2,000 off employer National Insurance bills for every company in the country - a move he described as "taking tax off jobs".

But George Osborne slashed the official growth forecast in half as he admitted the recovery was taking "longer than anyone hoped". He said that the economy would grow by just 0.6% this year - down from the previous forecast of 1.2% - slower than forecast next year at 1.8% compared to the 2% forecast at the time of the Autumn Statement.

He described the package as a "Budget for people who aspire to work hard and get on". But he added: "Today, I'm going to level with people about the difficult economic circumstances we still face and the hard decisions required to deal with them."

The sluggish growth figures mean borrowing will be higher than expected - hitting £114 billion this year compared to a previous forecast of £108 billion. Next year borrowing will be £108 billion as against the £99 billion previously predicted, before dropping down to £42 billion in 2017-18 compared to £31 billion forecast in the Autumn Statement. But the Chancellor predicted the deficit would continue to come down thanks to the "many tough decisions" taken by the Government.

Tax free child care vouchers worth £1,200 per child and increased support for families with children on universal credit. The Flat rate pension worth £144 a week will be brought forward to 2016.

Reacting to the statement, Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "This is the Chancellor's fourth Budget but one thing unites them all - every Budget, he comes to this House and things are worse not better for this country."

Budget 2013: Winners and Losers

Budget 2013: Winners and Losers