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The BBC's Mark Mardell
"Its the latest you can leave the budget and still have an April election"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 14 February, 2001, 17:54 GMT
Brown sets Budget day
Gordon Brown on budget day 2000
This will be Mr Brown's fourth Budget
Chancellor Gordon Brown has announced that he will unveil his Budget - almost certainly his last before the expected spring general election - on Wednesday 7 March.

Mr Brown made the announcement in a written answer to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

The decision to deliver his Budget on a Wednesday rather than a Tuesday marks a break with recent tradition by the chancellor.

Apart from Mr Brown's first budget in July 1997 after Labour took office, all budget statements since 1980 have been on a Tuesday.

'No significance'

But a Treasury spokesman insisted that there was no significance in the decision to go for a Wednesday this time.

"It is a sensible time to fit in with various diaries and other engagements," the spokesman said.

The chancellor's Budget is expected to include a set of vote-grabbing initiatives aimed at attracting electoral support for Labour in the run-up to an expected May poll.

The decision to announce his Budget in March means the anticipated "sweeteners" will be able to feed through to voters' pockets before the election.

Pre-Budget speech

Mr Brown trailed many of the financial moves in his pre-Budget report last November.

These included a pledge to cut fuel duty and the cost of tax discs for trucks and smaller cars.

Mr Brown will also make up for last year's much criticised 75p-a-week increase in pensions, with an above-inflation rise this year.

Other measures include a 50 boost in winter fuel payments for OAPs and an 80 increase in children's tax credit.

The chancellor recently hinted that he may also introduce targeted income tax cuts to benefit families, pensioners, low-paid workers and savers.

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