Senior Tory Eric Pickles hints at new Budget in coming weeks

Julian Harris
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Osborne will no longer have to run Budgets past Lib Dems such as Danny Alexander
A Conservative member of the last coalition Cabinet said yesterday that chancellor George Osborne could unveil a new Budget “relatively soon”.

Eric Pickles, who served as secretary of state for communities and local government, said that the move would be needed to outline Tory attempts to reduce the state’s huge annual deficit.

Osborne revealed his last Budget just over seven weeks ago, on 18 March. Yet having returned to government without the Liberal Democrats in tow, he may be keen to outline a statement of intent on behalf of the new all-Conservative executive.

“I would anticipate that we would do a Budget relatively soon, in order to get Conservative measures through,” Pickles told BBC Radio 5 Live’s John Pienaar.

Official sources were last night tight-lipped over the prospect of a second Budget, insisting that no decision had yet been taken.

After being elected to Downing Street in 2010, Osborne held an emergency Budget several weeks later, in June. However, the situation was markedly different, with the coalition taking over from Labour and facing a tougher fiscal challenge.

Nonetheless, prior to the election the Conservatives outlined several key policies to differentiate their stance from the Lib Dems – including the introduction of law to promise that they will not raise core taxes, such as income tax, National Insurance or VAT, during this parliament.

A new Budget would give Osborne the opportunity to confirm a string of pre-election pledges. Conversely, some economists have predicted a post-election tax rise – a move that could also form part of a second Budget.

“There is hard work still to be done on fiscal consolidation, as sign-posted in March’s pre-election Budget,” said Hermes Investment Management’s Neil Williams. “The fiscal screw will have to stay tight. if the underlying budget deficit is to be whittled down.”

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