Chancellor focused on votes
Basic tax threshold expected to rise to £11,000 in Budget
Chancellor George Osborne is expected to increase personal tax allowances, cut drinks duties and provide more help for the oil industry when he unveils his Budget, the last before the General Election.
With only seven weeks to go until polling day, Mr Osborne is certain to announce a package of voter-friendly changes and pledges.
He is now thought to be favouring a rise in the basic tax threshold to help quell constant accusations that the Conservatives are the party of the rich.
In last year’s Autumn Statement, he raised the basic allowance by £100 to £10,600, which is due to be implemented in April. He is now said to be considering a further hike, taking it to £11,000, relieving thousands more low-paid workers from paying tax.
This would cost the Treasury as much as £2.7 billion, but Mr Osborne will call on improving economic conditions and higher tax receipts to help pay for it.
He is already expected to offer more help for the oil industry by unveiling a new tax regime to ensure exploration is safeguarded in the North Sea.
There is also a growing belief that he will cut taxes on drinks, a move that may draw some criticism from the health lobby but prove popular among in the wider population and with the drinks industry.
There are hopes that he will take action to help slow or reverse the number of pubs closing and end disparities between taxes paid by pubs and supermarkets.
The Drop the Duty campaign, led by the whisky and wine industries, is the most vocal and aggressive lobby for a cut in excise duties for many years.