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Worst Post-War Contraction

In announcing the UK budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling predicted that the economy would contract at a rate of 3.5 percent in 2009, with a fall of around 1.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

That puts the economy in its deepest slump since just after World War II.

The cost of propping up the banking system was 3.5 percent of GDP, Darling said.

But the government predicted its economy would grow at a rate of 3.5 percent by 2011.

The following are some of the highlights of tax and spending initiatives the budget proposes.

Sharon Lorimer