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Darling to tackle £5bn hole in finances

Alistair Darling will be forced to tackle the UK's burgeoning public debt with a package of new taxes over the next eight years. The chancellor of the exchequer will require the increased revenue in order to plug a black hole of around £5 billion in the country's finances. The debt has been built up by spending increases since 2002 and is expected to widen in the face of the economic downturn predicted over the next two years. Once the downturn has subsided, the Treasury will begin to impose the taxes steadily with these expected to include higher duty for alcohol and fuel. Philip Hammond, shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, said the problem had been caused principally by unsustainable spending under Mr Darling's predecessor Gordon Brown.He told the Observer: "Brown has failed to prepare England for tough economic times. With the largest budgetary deficit in Europe, and rising inflationary pressure, the consequences of his economic incompetence are becoming clear."

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