Budget pays for pothole repairs - with stamp duty hike

George Osborne has promised an extra £200m will be made available for local authorities to bid for pothole repairs.

In his Budget statement, the chancellor has also promised an extra £140m to cover repairs to flood defences this year.

But in an attempt to cut down on tax evasion, he also announced that anyone buying a house worth more than £500,000 through a company will have to pay stamp duty of 15% from midnight tonight.

Such a move was criticised by Nick Leeming, chairman of estate agency chain Jackson-Stops & Staff.

He said: "We must continue to welcome global wealth to London, particularly in the new-build sector where the creation of high-end homes will deliver affordable housing elsewhere in the borough."

Other measures in the Budget included approval of a £270m guarantee for the Mersey Gateway project.

And individual company's annual investment allowance will be extended to £500,000 a year from next month to the end of next year.

Osborne said he was extending grants for apprenticeships to small businesses to create another 100,000 apprenticeships.

And he said his government was "offering half a billion pounds of finance to small house building firms".

The extra money for flood defences was welcomed by Dom del Re, climate change catastrophe expert at PwC. He said: "In the UK the insurance sector plays a greater role than in most European countries in helping businesses and homeowners get back on their feet after severe flooding. Better defences will ultimately mean lower premiums for policy holders, although the issue will be the lag between when the defences are in place and when insurance companies start recognising the reduced risk in the pricing models they use."

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