Page last updated at 11:31 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Pre-Budget report date announced

Chancellor Alistair Darling
Mr Darling will be expected to update his economic forecasts

The pre-Budget report will take place on Wednesday 9 December, Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced.

Mr Darling will be expected to chart out the road to economic recovery and give more details of how he plans to halve the deficit over four years.

All parties have admitted that spending cuts will be needed to achieve this but the Tories want them to begin now.

The pre-Budget report will be the last before a general election, which must take place by June 2010.

Growth question

Mr Darling will be under pressure to update his economic forecasts after figures published last month showed the UK was still in recession - contrary to the predictions of many economists.

The chancellor has said he expects to see a return to growth around the "turn of the year".

He has suggested confidence is beginning to return in some sectors of the economy, but warned that the economy is "not out of the woods yet".

In his latest comments on the state of the economy, Bank of England Governor Mervyn King said on Wednesday that the road to recovery had "only just started".

And newly released figures showed unemployment rose by a further 30,000 to 2.46 million in the three months to September.

However, this was the smallest quarterly rise since May 2008.

The Conservatives say ministers do not have a credible plan to get the UK out of what is the longest recession since records began in the 1950s.

But Labour say the slump would have been longer and deeper still if it had followed Conservative advice and not pursued measures to stimulate the economy such as the cut in VAT.

The Lib Dems have accused ministers of failing to persuade banks - particularly those which the taxpayer controls - to free up lending to business, saying this has become a real "obstacle" to the recovery.

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