Whilst the press release with the pre-budget report stated that the level would return to 17.5% from 1 January 2010. Their website had the additional line:
"and subsequently increase to 18.5% in 2011-12"
Now putting on my ex civil servant hat I would expect that despite denials that this was ever part of the plan it had to have been there in the original proposals and someone forgot to check the copy handed to the webmaster to publish. Maybe it was a photocopied piece which didn't copy a crossing out and the margin note/scribble:
"Not for release yet."
Or maybe it did and we've all been done a public service in finding out Darling's true intentions. Brown may have talked prudence, but he wasn't saving, or cutting the nations credit card bill. Now we've been told that the tax cuts that are being made will eventually be followed by tax hikes, watch out for VAT being just another one of those.
Notes: The author is aware that many last minute changes to key Governemnt documents are made up to the last minute possible before issuing due to have spent a number of years doing just that whilst working in a Civil Service department at Stormont. He is therefore not surprised that an different draft may have been used on the website, though it may be ommitted from the official release it does not exclude the fact that this may still be policy.