You can see how much of a squeeze the government is in by looking at the figures for its tax receipts.

Projections for 2009/10 are:

Income tax £140bn (against an estimate of £152bn in 08/09)

VAT £63.7bn (£78.4bn)

Capital gains tax £2.2bn (£7.8bn)

Stamp duties £5bn (£8bn)

Inheritance tax £2.3bn (£2.9bn)

Petroleum revenue tax £1.1bn (£2.6bn)

As a result, the total take by HMRC is expected to be £394bn this year, against an estimate of £427bn last year and £451bn the previous year. Ouch.

Total receipts, which include business rates, council tax and vehicle excise duties, will be about £496bn against £548bn in 2007-8.

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