No giveaways in 2010 Budget, says UK Chancellor

Chancellor Alistair Darling has reiterated there will be no “giveaways”
ahead of the general election, as he prepares to deliver Wednesday’s Budget.

want to see a sensible, workmanlike Budget,” Mr Darling told the BBC.

He added the
Budget would emphasise measures to encourage private sector investment and
secure long-term economic growth.

He also said
that a rise in VAT was “not on the table”.

“There is
no question of giveaways,” Mr Darling said.

“The mood
of the times is not for giveaways. People are not daft, they know perfectly
well that we need to get borrowing down and secure [economic] recovery.”

Mr Darling
said there had been signs recently that the economy was improving, with unemployment
falling and government borrowing lower than forecast.

But he said
there was still a lot of uncertainty, so the Budget would focus on securing
future economic growth.

Despite the need
cut government borrowing dramatically, Mr Darling stressed the need for the
UK’s taxation system to remain internationally competitive. To this end, he
said there would be no rise in VAT.

Shadow chief
secretary to the Treasury Philip Hammond, also speaking to the BBC, said the Conservatives
would also favour spending cuts as opposed to tax rises to cut debt levels.

burden of adjustment has to be on the spending side,” he said.


The government
plans to halve the budget deficit – which is one of the highest in Europe and
is expected to hit about 12.6 per cent of GDP this financial year, well above
the European Union (EU) target of 3 per cent  – over the next four years.

Last week, the
EU criticised the plans for not being ambitious enough.

Conservatives also argue that cuts need to be made more quickly.

But figures
released on Thursday showed that government borrowing for the year to the end
of March is running at £132bn for the year-to-date, suggesting that full-year
borrowing could come in well below the government’s forecast of £178bn.

There had been
some suggestions that lower borrowing could give the chancellor some room for
pre-election giveaways.

March figures
show that 2.45 million people in the UK are unemployed, 33,000 fewer than February’s