The Budget on the 18th March will be the last of the current Parliament and takes place in the knowledge that everyone knows when the General Election will be. This is a bit different from the Budget given by Alistair Darling in March 2010.
He made his announcements before the date of the 2010 General Election had been set. Gordon Brown did not go to Buckingham Palace until 6 April to ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. The election was on 6 May 2010. The budget of the Labour Party in March was only partly enacted due to the calling of the election and the change of government.
This time, following the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, the date of the election has been set as Thursday 7 May 2015. And what has also been set by the Fixed-term Parliaments Act is the date of dissolution of the current Parliament - all business in the House of Commons comes to an end on 30 March 2015. So there is very little time between the Budget and giving effect to the Budget in a Finance Act. In December 2014 we had the issue of a voluminous amount of draft legislation to be included in Finance Bill 2015.
Will all this be rushed through before dissolution? Hopefully we will be told on Budget day but I expect there will be a truncated Finance Act. Most of the rest will appear in a further Finance Bill subject, of course, to which political party emerges as the Government. It will be interesting to see which part of the draft legislation makes it into the first Finance Act 2015.
Will we see any pre-election giveaways by George Osborne? Given that the Government is still spending more money than it brings in, you wouldn't think so would you? However George still managed to pull some rabbits out of the hat in the Autumn Statement with the better than expected increase in personal allowance and the reform of SDLT on residential properties.
So I, for one, will not be surprised to be 'surprised' on Budget day.
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