Announcing the last tax and spending plans before the May general election, Alistair Darling also unveiled measures designed to boost digital jobs, expand access to bank accounts and revive small businesses. He also confirmed that duty on wine, beer and spirits will increase by 2% above inflation every year until 2013.
The rise in duty on cider takes effect Sunday (28 March) and will see cider duty increase by 13% because inflation is currently at about 3%.
In addition, Darling says that the definition of cider will change to ensure stronger variants are taxed more heavily.
Conservative Party leader David Cameron has proposed an increase in duty on super strength lagers, ciders and alcopops to tackle alcohol abuse and binge drinking.
Elsewhere, the Chancellor says a million extra people will be guaranteed a basic bank account. The move follows news that Labour is planning to create a “Peoples Bank” to service the low-paid and provide competition to private retail banks if it wins the General Election.
Darling also confirmed that no changes to VAT or income tax are planned. He also outlined plans to invest in digital jobs and measures to ensure that everyone has access to broadband.
Proposals to boost small businesses include; cutting business rates for one year from October, and no increase in the minimum rate of capital gains tax. He also announced that an extra 15% of central Government contracts will go to smaller firms.
The Government is also sticking to its forecast that the economy would grow by 1 to 1.5% this year although the prediction for next year has been downgraded to 3 to 3.5% compared to the 3.5% forecast given in the pre-Budget report.