Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Monday, 17 May 2010 13:16 UK

Emergency Budget: Coalition government sets June date

Budget box
The Budget will be three months after Labour's last one

The coalition government will hold its emergency Budget on 22 June, Chancellor George Osborne has said.

The Tories pledged before the election to hold a Budget within 50 days of coming to power to show their intention to get to grips with the deficit.

Mr Osborne confirmed the date at a briefing with Lib Dem David Laws, who is the Treasury Chief Secretary.

As part of their coalition deal, the two parties agreed to make £6bn in spending cuts in the current year.

Labour's last Budget was held at the end of March, weeks before the start of the general election. When they came to office in 1997, Labour also held a Budget within three months of being elected.

The new government has made reducing the UK's record peacetime borrowing its number one economic priority but Labour have said spending cuts this year could derail the economic recovery.

Mr Osborne refused to be drawn on the details of next month's statement - which is expected to start at the later time of 1530 BST - but said the "bulk" of his deficit-reduction measures would take the form of spending cuts rather than tax rises.

"A new, strong coalition government is going to do what the Labour government failed to do and let Britain live within its means," he said.

In his first press conference since becoming chancellor, Mr Osborne announced an audit of all government spending over the past year - to be carried out by the new Office for Budget Responsibility.

He said the government will announce next week how it plans to make £6bn in spending cuts this year, focusing on reducing the size of quangos and cutting IT, consultancy and advertising expenditure.

'Non-priority' areas

Ministers have said spending cuts will target "non-priority" areas. They insist that frontline public services will be unaffected and people on low incomes protected.

Mr Laws said some cost-saving proposals put forward by individual departments which would affect core services had already been rejected as "unacceptable".

Two departments - health and international aid - are to be ring-fenced, leading to speculation that cuts will come in other areas such as education and transport.

In their coalition agreement, the two parties said they would scale back child tax credits and child trust funds for families on above-average incomes, both of which could be confirmed in the Budget.

Speaking on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron refused to rule out a rise in VAT from 17.5% amid reports that many retailers are preparing for the move.

Before the election, the Conservatives said they had "no plans" to raise VAT in their first Budget although the Lib Dems claimed during the campaign this was likely and families faced a "VAT bombshell".

The new government has already said it will seek to raise capital gains tax on non-business investments to 40% and block part of next year's planned rise in employer National Insurance tax contributions.

The Conservatives have also agreed to gradually raise the threshold at which the lowest-paid start paying income tax, a key Liberal Democrat demand in coalition negotiations.



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