George Osborne is to cast himself as the champion of Britain’s hard workers when he unveils a series of measures designed to ease the pressure on low and middle-income earners and show the country faces a “painstaking” journey to recovery. The chancellor is expected to announce that moves towards a tax-free allowance of £10,000 will be brought forward a year to 2014. A planned rise in fuel duty, due to take place in September, may be delayed or even scrapped altogether. As the Treasury braces itself for a grim outlook, amid signs that the Office for Budget Responsibility will again downgrade growth forecasts, the chancellor will move to show that he is committed to stimulating the economy by announcing new capital spending projects. Osborne and his Liberal Democrat deputy, Danny Alexander, told the cabinet on Tuesday that they will direct an extra £2.5bn over the next two years into capital projects after imposing a new 1% cut on some Whitehall departments. Amid criticism that the Tories blundered in the Eastleigh by-election, by failing to focus on the challenge of the rising cost of living, the chancellor aims to turn the focus in his budget statement to support for hard pressed families. The Guardian.
The Cypriot parliament voted last night to reject a 10bn-euro bailout plan from the Troika which included a proposal to tax 5.8bn euros from bank accounts. According to the Financial Times, the country’s finance minister travelled over to Moscow in an attempt to ‘wrest vital economic assistance from the Kremlin’.
EDF Energy has warned that agreements on funding costs for two reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset are holding back plans for Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades and that ministers must “swiftly” agree on subsidies for the £14bn project, reports The Telegraph.
US internet giant Yahoo is in discussions with Dailymotion about buying a controlling stake in the online video website, writes The Times. The paper says that Yahoo could buy up to a 75% stake in the firm from owner France Telecom-Orange.
Zoltav Resources, the AIM-listed shell company 45%-owned by Roman Abramovich’s eldest son Arkadiy, has pulled off its first big oil deal in Russia, buying a giant field in Siberia in a $46m transaction, according to The Times. The paper says that Zoltav is to buy CenGeo Holdings, owner of the Koltogor discovery, for $26m and pledge $20m to fund its development.
Owners of Hotter Shoes, the over-50s “comfort shoes” manufacturer with a factory in Lancashire, are said to be exploring strategic options for the business, which could include a possible sale of up to £150m, says The Independent.
The Telegraph writes that Jérôme Cahuzac, France’s Budget Minister, has called it quits on the back of a probe into tax fraud and money laundering. The paper says that he had been tasked with fighting tax evasion and is now under investigation for holding a secret Swiss bank account.
Barack Obama is due to land at Tel Aviv airport on Wednesday for a three-day visit to Israel and Palestine that the White House – anxious to set low-to-zero expectations of tangible outcomes – has billed primarily as a listening exercise. Talks between the US president and the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, are expected to focus on Iran, Syria and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president will also travel to Ramallah to meet Palestinian leaders. Israeli air space will close for about an hour for the arrival of Air Force One. Obama will be greeted by Netanyahu, who was sworn in this week as leader of the new Israeli government; President Shimon Peres; other senior politicians and dignitaries; a contingent of Israeli soldiers; and a military orchestra. The Guardian.