The UK's public finances have deteriorated so badly that the Chancellor Alistair Darling will have to raise taxes by £9bn in his next budget, a leading independent think-tank has warned, The Independent reports.
The National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR) said the public finances were in "rather poor shape" and said the Government would need a major tax hike in order to stay within its self-imposed fiscal rules following the Budget, which the Treasury said yesterday would be unveiled on 12 March.
However, the NIESR called on Mr Darling to resist the temptation to raise taxes and instead revise its "inflexible", "badly designed" and "discredited" fiscal framework to avoid damaging the economy.
The think tank's warning follows a very similar alert from the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which said an £8bn tax rise would be required to keep the Government within its own rules.
AXA BECAME THE LATEST victim of the crisis in the commercial property market yesterday as it imposed a six-month ban on investors withdrawing funds from its £2.1bn portfolio, The Times reports.
The move by the France-based investment manager, one of the biggest in Europe, affects 125,000 UK savers and investors with funds in AXA's two big property funds, worth £1.2bn and £895m, respectively.
The group said that, after a “significant increase” in customer withdrawals, it had begun to sell off properties to meet redemption payments. However, the slowdown in the market has meant that it can take up to five months for a sale to go through, prompting AXA to call a halt to withdrawals.
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