George Osborne will seek to kick-start the Tory election campaign with a series of crowd-pleasing measures and promises of more to come as he delivers what could be his last UK Budget.
The Chancellor is expected to use an improvement in economic forecasts to hammer home the message that his “plan is working” – urging the public not to return to “chaos” under Labour.
Some £2 billion will be allocated to raising the personal tax allowance from £10,600 to £11,000, in line with the Conservative and Liberal Democrat aim for it to hit £12,500 by 2020.
He will also highlight plans to scrap annual tax returns and replace them with ’digital tax accounts’, allowing millions of people to manage their affairs in real time using smart phones or computers.
Alongside the widely-trailed move to allow pensioners to trade in poor-value annuities for cash, Mr Osborne will unveil more funding for border security, targeted measures for loans to PhD students from deprived backgrounds, and pension protection for widows of police officers and firefighters who choose to marry again.
However, after pledging at the weekend that there would be “no gimmicks or giveaways” in the financial package – and with Lib Dem sign off needed for his plans – any extra spending is likely to be balanced by a fresh crackdown on tax avoidance or levy on banks.
Any leeway from upgraded economic growth predictions could be offset against the fresh round of austerity cuts required to eradicate the deficit by Mr Osborne’s timetable of 2017-18.
He is expected to woo the middle classes with a promise to take more people out of inheritance tax, as well as stressing commitments to raising the higher rate tax threshold to £50,000 in the next parliament.