Budget is still squeezing us

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AS with all budgets, there will be winners and losers - and the question on most people’s lips is which am I?

If you smoke, you need to drive and if you are a pensioner, then you are most definitely a loser.

The Chancellor has decided that smokers will smoke, no matter what the price is for a packet of fags, so he has cranked it up by a massive 37p - way above the inflation rate.

If you are a driver - and most of us are - we can expect to see the price at the pumps continue its inexorable path upwards, with a 3p rise in August.

And surprisingly, he has hit the pensioners who will see their tax allowance frozen and then abolished.

And that, if anything, was proof that he needed to balance the books. Because what he desperately wanted to do was to give tax relief to the lower paid workers.

In South Yorkshire, that means that nearly 500,000 will get a tax break, with the raising of the personal allowance to £1,100 in April.

It means nearly half a million working people will be around £220 better off. And significantly, it means that 16,530 of the poorest people in Sheffield will be lifted out of paying any income tax since 2010.

That is a massive help to some of the lowest paid people in our county and is a welcome boost.

But he has still fallen short of helping those classed by Ed Milliband as the squeezed middle, who have little to celebrate from this budget.

Shining examples of a generation

CONGRATULATIONS to the inspirational youngsters who have just been given their Duke of Edinburgh awards.

These are youngsters who have completed a programme of volunteering, expeditions and leadership challenges.

They are a shining example of the great young people who live in our communities and help other people.

Their commitment to such a great award scheme will hold them in good stead for the future and proves that this generation is just as good as the ones that have gone before.

The right direction

IT would be easy to be blase or even dismissive about the achievements of boy band One Direction.

But they deserve as much credit as any top athlete or actor. The band, which features Doncaster’s Louis Tomlinson, has just achieved what no other modern-day act from Britain has done - by conquering the American charts. We should be proud of Louis and all who made him what he is today.