George Osborne will deliver his sixth Budget as Chancellor on Wednesday, 50 days before the General Election.
He has pledged no “gimmicks” but newspaper reports have suggested he is considering tax cuts and could have as much as £5bn for a pre-election “giveaway”.
Pre-election Budgets are invariably controversial with many entering political folklore, although former Chancellor Ken Clarke has claimed that no Budgets “in living memory” have changed the outcome of a subsequent election.
How have some of Mr Osborne’s predecessors dealt with the twin pressures of securing the nation’s finances while trying to deliver their party an election victory?
What was announced: In the run-up to his third Budget, Mr Darling ruled out any pre-election giveaways, saying his package would be “sensible and workmanlike”.
With the UK having recently emerged from recession and with the annual budget deficit running well in excess of £150bn, Mr Darling said his priorities were to get borrowing down and secure the economic recovery.
He announced plans for a number of tax rises on the better-off, saying he would curb personal tax allowances for those earning more than £150,000.
With one eye on May’s election, he vowed to phase in planned rises in fuel duty, promised an extra £600m for winter fuel allowance and offered to suspend stamp duty on home purchases by first-time buyers of up to £250,000.
Among the more eye-catching proposals was a planned 10% rise in duty on cider.
There was no increase in VAT despite speculation in advance that it had been considered and rumours of a disagreement between Mr Darling and then Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
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