"No giveaways, no gimmicks": Here comes George Osborne's Budget 2015

 
Emma Haslett
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Today's Budget is Osborne's final opportunity to lure voters (Source: Reuters)

George Osborne is set to outline a range of measures designed to reinforce his party's austerity message, while enticing as many voters as possible for May's election.

The chancellor has promised "no giveaways, no gimmicks' in his final Budget of this parliament.

So far, the government has hinted at Easter eggs for pensioners, in the form of a reduction in the lifetime pensions allowance from £1.25m to £1m and the right to cash in annuities.

For the low-paid, the chancellor is likely to raise the personal allowance to £11,000.

And businesses may benefit from a review of business rates - although that is longer-term, with a report planned for early 2016.

One final surprise was saved for this morning: the chancellor is expected to announce plans to put an end to the annual tax return by introducing a "digital" tax account. The Telegraph reported that the measure will "reduce the time it takes to deal with HM Revenue and Customs from an average of 40 minutes a year to 10 minutes".

Such a reform will affect 11 million self-employed people, with many of those having become self-employed thanks to the recession.

But economists will have their eyes firmly fixed on predictions from the independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR). The organisation is expected to upgrade its forecast for economic growth from 2.4 per cent at the end of last year to 2.6 per cent, although its inflation forecast may be lowered to below one per cent, from 1.2 per cent.

Earlier this week, John Cridland, director general of the CBI, challenged Osborne to produce a "responsible budget".

Let’s look to build on our hard-earned sound economic footing by creating a stable investment environment for ambitious firms looking to expand.
Our economy is in good shape, but there’s still no room for complacency, so spending wisely on measures that will help to keep growth heading in the right direction while staying the course on deficit reduction has got to be the priority.

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