Gordon Brown has insisted his spending plans are affordable despite criticism that he has been too optimistic about the state of the British economy.
In his pre-Budget report, the chancellor announced plans to freeze fuel duty, minimise Council Tax increases as well as boost childcare.
But city analysts and opposition spokesmen have criticised his figures and have warned that Mr Brown may have to impose tax rises or spending cuts to make the books balance.
On BBC Radio 4's Today programme the Chancellor refused to rule out future tax rises, saying "it would not be responsible to do".
What did you think of the Chancellor's pre-Budget report? Do you agree with his economic forecast? Do you think he will have to introduce tax rises or cut public spending?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we have received so far:
Clearly Gordon Brown has the same aim as the public to continue borrowing to fund spending. At some point this will all come to a sticky end. Live now, pay later is not good.
Get real people. For once the government has catered for families (which consist of the majority of the population) and yet we still moan. Cutting taxes is all well and good, but wave goodbye to a decent education, financial help in hard times, health care, security etc. The Chancellor needs to maintain a fine balance. Over the past seven years he has exceeded everyone's expectations.
Danny, Liverpool, UK
I'd like some reward for paying money into an education system for other peoples' children, when I have none of my own, and for covering for married (or not!) colleagues who are off on maternity or paternity leave!
There are a lot of comments on here regarding the Chancellor 'favouring' families with children. I have two children under 3 and get no extra help from this budget. Why? Because I want to look after my children myself. There is only help available if you are willing to send your tot out to a nursery for 10 hours a day. That, to me, isn't childcare. I also work full-time and have made sacrifices to work from home and therefore be here for my children. We cut our out-goings by two-thirds and can manage. But please don't tell me that this government is family friendly. It is not.
Rachel Tyrrell, Lincoln, England
No plan to cut the rapidly expanding government workforce then? This speech appears more about chuck bones to the electorate to bribe them to vote Labour and leave the tax increases until after the General Election. We are not stupid Mr Brown, unfortunately a large enough part of the UK population are gullible / uninterested enough to believe him.
David Burch, London
Nothing for me as usual. Being a single person with no kids through choice, I am expected to pay for all this. My tax form consists of two questions: How much do you earn? Send it?
A pre-election handout of goodies to the low paid which will have little benefit to the country's economy. The Chancellor needs to understand that US levels of business creation and an increase in high tech jobs can only be achieved in low taxation economies. Brown, as usual, thinks he can square the circle by hitting the hard pressed middle income groups. A clear indication of the high tax, high spend socialist policies that Brown would pursue as Prime Minister and therefore, a certain vote winner.
These are more broken promises and cheap gimmicks from Labour. How much more tax will we have to pay if they get in again? He has still not apologised for ruining our pensions with his pension tax.
There are a lot of people moaning on here, but I think Brown has done a very good job in a difficult climate and deserves some praise! He's about the only person in the Labour government I have any faith in! Keep up the good work Mr B!
K , UK
Making provision for parents to dump their children on the local school (with its grossly-underpaid childcare staff) from dawn to dusk, will simply accelerate the vicious circle which leads to house price inflation. In the days when one parent stayed at home, a house was easily affordable on one income.
Chris White, England
Well I didn't expect anything for the likes of myself, married with no kids, both struggling to make ends meet with the only jobs we can find.
Sarah, Chester, UK
If we hadn't wasted millions on Iraq then we'd have more to spend on the issues at home.
Tony Moody, Plymouth UK
When my children were small my wife stayed at home and looked after them. Now people expect to have children and maintain the same double income lifestyle but of course they can now because not only did I support my children I am supporting theirs! Please could I keep some of my own money.
Stephen Apanowicz, England
How are we supposed to "strive for world leadership in science and technology" when universities are shutting chemistry departments? More money for research leads to world-class discoveries, Mr Brown, not starving departments of resources!
Is it a coincidence that Brown and Blair both have small children and suddenly there are a raft of measures relating to childcare provision? I guess it benefits more people than those chancellors who used to be lenient on tax on their favourite tipple.
Dave, Cambridge, UK
Why bother investing in science education and hi-tech industry? All the high tech jobs are being outsourced to other countries.
Martin Hall, England
So that's clear, if you are not a family with children you are excluded by this government. We all need to be left with more of our own money, so individuals can prioritise their own spending. Still nanny knows best.
Craig Whittaker, England
Some good points on here, I do hope that Gordon and Tony read it!
Steve Pennell, UK
I own a nursery and employ 10 people - all women. We have a high level of maternity leave to fund and a high level of sick pay to fund as children pass round all sorts of illnesses. The government pays us only £3.03 per hour to fund the free nursery places, then invests a lot of money in these children's centres and extended hours at school. How long will the private nurseries be able to survive?
Now, call me cynical, but could Mr Brown's about-turn on the fuel tax increase have more to do with an upcoming election than volatile fuel prices? Still at least it's one less tax increase...wonder what stealth tax will replace it? It's also funny that only now before an election, he's trying to avoid council tax rises!
Nigel, Beds, England
How Gordon Brown will generate 'US levels of business creation' while every day he moves us further away from the US low-tax low-regulation model that underpins their economic success closer towards the sclerotic European high-tax red-tape model I don't know.
John Haywood, UK
Taxes will have to go up after the election unless the Chancellor starts to get better value for money for all the extra taxes we are paying and the borrowing we'll have to pay for in the future. The margin for error in meeting his own rules is wafer thin. I think he is just saying anything to pretend 4 more years of Blair in power won't mean even higher taxes. We all know how much waste there is from our own experience of government.
Iain Corby, Corby, UK
If Mr Brown seriously wants to help the families of Britain, as well as allowing maternity leave to be transferred, how about allowing the personal allowances to be transferred between the mother/father so that more of their hard earned money goes into raising their children?
Sonia, Luton, UK
I want Gordon Brown to explain to me how he obtains such a low inflation figure? Gas, electric, water, travel, council tax, mortgage costs (all of life's necessities) have all risen FAR in excess of his quoted figure.
Trying to lessen council tax increases and (temporarily) freezing fuel duty? Clear electioneering. Sad, but not unexpected with this government.
Only 3 minutes spent talking about his biggest problem - the state of the public finances. I think that says everything.
Freezing fuel duty should keep the electorate wolves from the door ... for the time being. I am glad to see there is a long term plan for children. This is not rocket science and I think the same should be applied to health, crime and transport. This is simply a budget to sweeten most of the electorate, suffice to say it's not enough to swing my vote back to them.
Great news! Upbeat budget. Lots in it for children, motorists. Fantastic news on council tax. Let's have a lot more of this please.
Diane Hain, England
Where on earth is all this extra money going to come from? Spend, spend spend. Tax cuts please.
Jon Harrison, Leeds, England
A junk food tax. Put a high tax on fat, sugar or salt rich processed foodstuffs. With this tax, subsidise the cost of fruit, veg and meat joints to encourage healthier lifestyles. Better control of MP expenses - why should they get first class train travel when everyone else has to make do with standard class?
How about attempting to stop the increase in people buying second homes in rural areas by slapping VAT of 17.5 or 20 per cent on the cost of the purchase. This may increase affordability levels and stop some parts becoming disbanded communities and ghost towns at certain times of the year.
Stephen, London, UK
Why not set about re-nationalising industries where you cannot have competition, such as gas, electricity, water, public transport and telephones. All these utility companies and public services should be run on a not for profit basis, and all money made should be put back into the company to keep these essential services as cheap as possible to the user.
I. Connolly, Manchester
Higher road tax for 4x4 vehicles. Maybe it will remove the mums on the school run from the road.
The one thing I don't want is for Gordon Brown to talk about encouraging entrepreneurs. Every time he does, he introduces new tax legislation and discourages it.
Mike Burns, Birmingham
If he had any sense he would make sure that British industry and innovation is well supported. If not, Britain will surely die as an industrial nation. Note the lack of funding in the chemistry departments of universities. If we lose chemistry we will lose a lot!
R. Steward, Hampshire
Revised plans for tuition fees is highest on my wish list. I continue to struggle with the concept of the government trying to increase the skills of the workforce through university, but putting an undue amount of pressure, and financial burden on students through tuition fees at the same time.
Avnesh Pandya, UK
A revision to the whole taxation approach that puts more in your pocket but taxes what you spend it on. It should be balanced to ensure the richer pay more tax on a pro-rata basis.
Ian C, Midlands
Seeing as OUR hard work has kept the economy on an even keel, how about some tax reductions - as a reward?
Alfie Noakes, North of England, UK
I would be quite happy if Mr Brown slapped a much bigger tax on cigarettes, alcohol and junk food, and ploughed the extra cash into the NHS.
Kate, Beds, UK
It's all very well offering tax breaks or longer maternity/paternity leave to parents but I would like to see something for people like me who choose not to have or cannot have children. After all we pay taxes too and should therefore also benefit from tax breaks/benefits.
JD, Abingdon, UK
I would like to see him save some money - it would make a nice change from his usual spend, spend, spend policies.
Rob Watson, Winchester, Hants
Control in schools handed back to well-educated and trained teachers. Matrons and Almoners brought back into hospitals; middle management sacked.
Some recognition in the tax system that not every taxpayer is married with children and thus unable to take advantage of the generous tax breaks designed exclusively for that group even though singles/the childless are required to fund them. An abatement of NI contributions for those unable to register with an NHS dentist, or alternatively a tax break for private dental insurance. Means testing of child benefits to exclude those earning over £75k from claiming them. An increase in stamp duty to 20% of the total price for those buying second homes.
Trevor, Cambs, UK
The haulage industry needs lower fuel prices in order to compete with foreign hauliers entering the country with fuel bought abroad who then are free to operate without paying a penny to the Treasury. Over 65% of the trucks entering Dover are foreign registered and over 70% of fuel in this country is tax. How can we compete!
Steve Bowles, UK
There are just two words I want to hear: Lower taxes.
Dave, Sheffield, UK
Aid for first time buyers to get on the housing ladder, removal of stamp duty would be a start!
Rob Hather, UK
More support for the traditional 'married' family and less for unmarried teenage mums. More money for road-building and less for anti-motorist schemes (some hope!). And money to be ploughed into the setting-up of a proper English Assembly/Parliament, to put us on a par with the Scots and Welsh.
Andy, Manchester, England
A big decrease in the cost of a pint of beer produced by British distillers. This is to be funded by additional road taxes on people who drive four-by-fours or who have 'Child on board' stickers in their back window.
Funds to pay all the small businesses that have supplied government and its agencies on time. I believe this government is bankrupting small businesses.
No more help to Special Interest Groups within the business community, but a level playing field in the market for small and large firms alike. Therefore, removal of IR35, Section 660a and Dividend tax.
Richard Mills, UK
A commitment to reduce what is the highest tax burden ever, to reduce the excessive overregulation, to cut the high levels of wasteful spending (i.e 3% more NHS care for 50% more NHS funding since 1997 shows how poorly our money is spent) and a commitment to running a budget which is balanced or in surplus every year, not just when the budget is looked at over an indefinite time span determined by the Chancellor to suit his own ends.
He needs to pay back the millions he has plundered from pension funds.
Terry, Epsom, Surrey, England
I think there should be more help for parents to pay childcare fees. I work full-time, but only earn enough to pay my household bills, mortgage and childcare fees - I do not get any help towards my childcare at all - you do wonder - what is the point.
Financial honesty with regards taxation rises before the general Election and not just some thinly veiled attempt to "butter up the populace" in order to get back in power. before raising taxes
Steve, London, UK
An increase in taxes, ring-fenced to be spent on building up the UK's failing infrastructure, in recognition of the fact that money invested today will produce a stronger economy tomorrow. The re-linking of the state pension to earnings, and removal of the tax on private pension funds. Serious investment into the anti-fraud arm of the Department of Works and Pensions, to reduce the amount of benefit claimed illegally. An increase in spending on frontline NHS services, with a reduction in the ineffective managerial ranks. And most importantly, the announcement that the UK government will do the same of those governments in the rest of the world and put UK businesses first when handing out large government contracts.
Simon Watson, UK
Abolishing the Road Fund Licence, and slightly increasing the duty on fuel which I believe would be accepted by the majority of the country.
Dan Brooke, UK
No gimmicks for trying to sway people for the up and coming election. A complete overhaul of the method in which public money is spent so a taxpayer like myself can see exactly where my tax money is spent. I would also like to see the Chancellor put aside more money for our doctors, nurses, the police force, our teachers, our armed forces, and any other public service that works for the well being of this country. Oh and for, in my view, our out of touch politicians to take a pay cut!
Ray, London, England
A refund of the £7 billion pounds a year he's taken from the pension funds since 1997 - and an iron cast pledge never to repeat the same cowardly stealth tax.
Guy Hammond, London, England
How about all government controllable bills being pegged to inflation. How about the removal of the MPs outrageous pension scheme?
Close the borders and cut incapacity benefit funding, because, let's face it, there is not enough money to go round with all the people in this country. Also cut back on numbers in senior government positions - we have a senior executive officer in state for every little thing they can think of. Government executive of recreation! Give me a break, to me that sounds like the office Christmas party planner. All overpaid jobs, for unnecessary work. If it isn't needed, get rid of it.
Some support for parents who decide that they would like to raise their own children by one/ both of them working less and staying at home, rather than the continued push for everyone to go back to work as soon as possible and pay minimum wage to someone else to raise their kids.
Rob Smith, UK
Tuition fees scrapped and free care for old folks that need it. Exactly what our friends north of the border have voted themselves.
The abolition of road fund license with a small increase in fuel duty to compensate. Plus the introduction of an insurance/MOT disc/card system for cars which must be shown before the filling station activates the pump for you. This will deal with people who don't pay road tax, and all but the hard core of uninsured drivers! The rest the police can find!
Michael, Darlington, UK