All eyes on the Budget ahead of May election - London Report

THE BUDGET, which will be delivered by the coalition government on Wednesday, will be the highlight of the week, as Britons look to see whether there will be any giveaways before the May General Election.

Speaking on the BBC Andrew Marr show, chancellor George Osborne promised a long-term Budget with “no giveaways, no gimmicks”.

“This Budget is all about securing a truly national recovery – from building a northern power house, connecting up other regions of our country, committing to long-term plans that support science and high speed transport, making sure that all parts of our country feel the benefits of the economic recovery.”

PwC predicted a Budget that walks the fine line between continued economic austerity and vote-tempters.

“Any announcements need to be agreed by the coalition, which limits how far he might go. Battle ground topics like raising inheritance tax thresholds are unlikely to feature. Crowd pleasers seem likely. Beer duty cuts anyone?” the accountancy firm stated.

Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight, said: “It has been widely reported that the chancellor is to extend his pension reforms by allowing pensioners to cash in their existing annuities for cash lump sums from April 2016. Another potential sweetener in the Budget will be to further raise the threshold level at which workers start to pay income tax.”

In other economic news, also out on Wednesday, earnings and unemployment figures are expected to show further growth in the UK economy, while public finances, out on Friday, are expected to give upbeat news after a strong performance in January.

The corporate calendar starts today with results from Smart Metering Systems and Tribal Group.

Tomorrow Antofagasta, French Connection Group, IG Group Holdings, J Sainsbury, Just Eat, Mears Group, Regenersis, Safecharge International and WANdisco will give figures.

On Wednesday Cape, Imagination Group, Phoenix Group and Smiths Group will update the market.

Thursday’s results are due from Arbuthnot Banking Group, Crest Nicholson, Eis Group, EnQuest, Lamprell, Next, Ophir Energy, Premier Farnell, Savills, Secure Trust Bank, Ted Baker and Xaar.

On Friday Berkeley Group, Jimmy Choo and JKX Oil & Gas will report.

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