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Help young and old urges TUC.

The UK economy should grow over the next two years, enabling the Government to stick to its public sector investment programme and lift more people out of poverty, the TUC has said.

In its Budget submission, the union organisation urged the Chancellor to target help at children and women pensioners.

The economy was strong enough for Gordon Brown to raise child tax credits and improve state pensions for women, said the TUC.

Its report predicted the economy should grow by at least 3pc over the next two years, with investment and exports recovering.

The biggest single threat was a stalled economic recovery in Europe.

Brendan Barber, the TUC general secretary, said: "How we treat our young and old is the measure of decency and fairness in our society. We can afford to lift more children and women pensioners out of poverty and we should use this Budget to do so."

It is urging the Government to:

* Raise Child Tax Credits by an extra pounds 2 a week.

* Abolish the '25pc' rule that stops people with less than ten years' contributions getting any state pension.

* Introduce a zero-VAT rate for all defined protective and safety equipment to reduce injury rates in smaller enterprises and among the self-employed.

* Broaden current tax relief to include subscriptions to professional bodies that promote workforce development and lifelong learning.

* Review business support offered to the manufacturing sector across the EU and draw positive lessons to develop and strengthen the UK's manufacturing strategy.
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Title Annotation:Business Local
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 11, 2004
Words:246
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