Page last updated at 00:41 GMT, Thursday, 13 November 2008

Pre-Budget report date announced

Alistair Darling
Mr Darling is expected to announce tax changes

The pre-Budget report will take place on Monday 24 November, Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced.

There has been much speculation that this year the report may include tax cuts, after the PM said he favoured a "fiscal stimulus" to boost the economy.

The chancellor is expected to slash his growth forecasts for the UK economy in the annual statement in the Commons.

In a newspaper interview on Wednesday, Mr Darling acknowledged that the economy was "going into recession".

'In recession'

This followed a report from the Bank of England suggesting the UK was already in a recession that will continue well into 2009.

The basic principle is to support the economy now but you have got to make sure you live within your means
Alistair Darling

Mr Darling has already signalled that the fiscal rules that have governed public borrowing since 1997 will have to be relaxed.

The chancellor told The Independent that it was "right to let borrowing rise" but that it was equally important that the economy "must come back into balance in the medium term".

"The basic principle is to support the economy now but you have got to make sure you live within your means."

The date for the pre-Budget report is later than expected because of the uncertain economic situation - it was initially expected in October.

The Monday statement has been chosen, it is believed, to give the prime minister time to consider talks at this weekend's Washington summit.

'Stimulus'

That summit is expected to see different countries discuss plans for a "fiscal stimulus", to get their economies going.

Unemployment figures released earlier rose by 140,000 in the three months to September, taking the total to 1.82 million - the highest in 11 years.

On Tuesday the prime minister signalled his support for the idea of "unfunded" tax cuts to help kick start the economy.

There has been speculation the PBR may see the government's controversial vehicle excise duty changes, which were due to come in next year, delayed.

There have also been reports that tax credits might be increased and there may be extra help with fuel bills for the elderly.

The date clashes with the annual conference of the Confederation of British Industry, which is due to be addressed by top industrialists and senior politicians, including Lord Mandelson and David Cameron.

It is also on the same day as the Environment Agency's two-day annual conference, due to be attended by Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

Asked about the clash, the prime minister's spokesman said: "Whatever day you choose, there is always something going on."



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