Thomas Bridge 18 March 2015

Budget 2015: Osborne promises 'no gimmicks'

Budget 2015: Osborne promises no gimmicks image

George Osborne will today deliver the final Budget of this Parliament with a speech expected to deliver significant investment in the North.

The Office for Budget Responsibility is due to increase its growth forecast for this year and the next in line with current levels of strong inflation and low interest, granting the chancellor a £6bn windfall.

Osborne has said his address at 12:30 this afternoon would hold 'no gimmicks' and 'no giveaways', representing 'a budget for the long term, where everything's paid for'.

He has indicated the speech will continue the Coalition’s austerity drive, this morning tweeting: 'We have a plan that's working and we should stay the course'.

However crowd-pleasing announcements trailed before the Budget include reductions in lifetime pension allowances and the end of the tax return, which could be replaced by a digital system within five years.

He is due to announce sweeping investments in northern chemical and health industries while granting a green light to the High Speed 3 rail link between Manchester and Leeds, which was proposed last year. Further projects due to receive backing today include the world’s first tidal lagoon in Swansea.

The chancellor told the BBC that the Budget would focus on delivering a 'truly national recovery from building a Northern powerhouse, connecting other regions of our country, committing to long-term plans that support science and high-speed transport'.

Reports suggest today’s Budget will also deliver significant new house building powers for the London mayor, with influence over riverside sites currently overseen by Whitehall.

In the lead up to today’s speech, the Government also confirmed the Low Paid Commission’s recommended increases to the National Minimum Wage to £6.70 would be delivered.

However the chancellor has come under mounting pressure in recent weeks to use today’s Budget to shore up health and social care services, with council directors recently predicting such support could become 'impossible' without a significant cash boost.

Labour’s shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, said today’s announcement 'cannot hide the fact that after five years of the Tories working families are worse off and our NHS is going backwards'.

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