Chancellor Alistair Darling has ruled out a “giveaway” Budget this year, but pledged to keep spending money to support the economy and keep people in jobs.
Darling is due to deliver the Budget on 24 March and reaffirmed his commitment to halve the budget deficit – which is expected to rise to £178bn this year – over a four-year period.
Darling told the BBC: “I don’t think anyone’s expecting some sort of Christmas-tree-of-a-Budget. They’re not going to get anything like that.
“What you’re going to get is a sensible Budget, a Budget for the times in which we live, a Budget for the future of the country.”
But the chancellor said increases in national insurance contributions, which were announced in the pre-Budget report, meant further tax rises were not needed.
Darling added his plans to cut the deficit over four years was “non-negotiable”.
He said: “I think that is a sensible rate. To do that more quickly would run the risk of tipping us back into recession.”