Page last updated at 10:10 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Budget will be on 24 March, Darling says

Alistair Darling
Mr Darling will deliver his second Budget on 24 March

This year's Budget will be held in Wednesday 24 March, Chancellor Alistair Darling has confirmed.

The statement will be six weeks ahead of the widely expected general election date of 6 May.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said the government had guided the economy through a "storm".

The Tories say Labour cannot be trusted on the economy and the deficit must be cut immediately. The Lib Dems say the economy is too fragile to allow this.

Mr Brown, speaking at Canary Wharf, east London, earlier, said the Budget would take place in "two weeks' time".

Mr Darling gave official confirmation in a written statement to Parliament.

'Dark cloud'

On Sunday, the chancellor said he was "absolutely committed" to reducing the UK's deficit and that his Budget would show he was "on course" to cut public borrowing from its forecast peak of £178bn this year.

He has ruled out a full spending review until there is more certainty about the economy.

I will not let you down
Gordon Brown

Revised figures published in February showed the UK emerged more strongly from recession at the end of last year than had previously been thought, but some economists have warned that growth could easily falter again in the coming months.

The Conservatives have pressed the chancellor to use the Budget to give more detail about how he intends to meet Labour's commitment to cut the deficit in half over the next Parliament.

They say the financial markets need greater reassurance on the matter, likening the deficit to a "dark cloud" hanging over the economy and its future recovery prospects.

But the Lib Dems say the UK's situation is too delicate to start cutting public spending and government support for business and jobs must continue.

Last year's Budget took place unusually late, on 22 April. It happened after the G20 summit, at which leaders debated how to tackle the economic crisis.

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