Budget 2024 LIVE: Chancellor has ‘national credit card maxed out’ amid 70-year high tax burden, Labour says

Sir Keir Starmer has rubbished Jeremy Hunt’s spring Budget as the “last desperate act” of the “failed” Conservatives as he says the UK is shouldering the highest tax burden in 70 years.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed a 2p cut in National Insurance in his Budget speech to MPs and set out a series of measures aimed at helping hard-pressed households, including freezing fuel duty and extending the “temporary” 5p cut for a further year.

He also said alcohol duty would be frozen until February 2025.

To help pay for personal tax cuts, Mr Hunt announced he will abolish the controversial non-dom status, which he said will generate £2.7billion.

But Labour leader Sir Keir told the Commons: “There we have it – the last desperate act of a party that has failed.

“Britain in recession, the national credit card maxed out, and, despite the measures today, the highest tax burden for 70 years.”

Follow latest updates below...

Key points:

  • Fuel duty frozen

  • Alcohol tax frozen

  • April tax cut

  • Non-Dom status scrapped

  • Child Benefit changes

  • Drones will respond to crimes

Live coverage ends

21:38 , Jacob Phillips

The Evening Standard’s live coverage of the Budget has ended.

Read the latest political stories from the Standard here.

Hear more about the 2024 Budget on The Standard podcast

18:26 , Jacob Phillips

On Today's episode of The Standard podcast we explain everything you need to know about the 2024 Budget and how it affects you.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has come out swinging with billions of pounds of personal tax cuts to boost his party’s electoral hopes - and box in Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

The Standard’s Political Editor, Nicholas Cecil, discusses whether or not it’s a blockbuster Budget for the Conservatives, and if it’s enough to win over voters ahead of the upcoming general election.

New tax on vapes announced

18:11 , Jacob Phillips

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in his Budget speech that there will be a new tax on vapes in a bid to discourage non-smokers from taking up the habit.

Mr Hunt told the Commons he was confirming “the introduction of an excise duty on vaping products from October 2026 and publishing a consultation on its design”.

You can read more about the new measure here.

A man using a disposable vape (PA) (PA Wire)
A man using a disposable vape (PA) (PA Wire)

Pensioners 'lost out' with NI cut, Suella Braverman says

17:54 , Miriam Burrell

Former home secretary Suella Braverman said she regrets there was no cut to income tax in the Chancellor’s Budget because this would have helped a “broader range of taxpayer”.

Ms Braverman told the Commons: “My preference would have been a 2p cut off the basic rate of income tax and an increase in the personal allowance and a raising of the income tax threshold – to properly fix a tax regime, which has become, I’m sad to say, a disincentive to work and endeavour in too many cases.

“Cutting income tax rather than national insurance helps a broader range of taxpayer, including workers, savers and pensioners.”

The Conservative MP for Fareham added: “I do regret that income tax was not chosen as the tax to cut today over national insurance because pensioners have lost out as a result.”

Who are the winners and losers in the Spring Budget?

17:09 , Jacob Phillips

The budget was full of measures that will make some people better off and some poorer.

So who will benefit most from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Budget statement, and who is set to lose out?Read our analysis here.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s red box (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt’s red box (James Manning/PA) (PA Wire)

Government has 'burned the house down' on public finances - Labour

16:38 , Jacob Phillips

The Government has "literally burned the house down" on public finances, Labour has said.

A spokesman for the party told reporters following the Budget: "We are under no illusions about how bad the inheritance will be if we are to win the next election.

"They have literally burned the house down when it comes to both the public finances and public services.

"The only long-term way of getting more money into our public services is by having a serious plan for growth."

Labour stands by spending commitments

16:34 , Jacob Phillips

Labour stands by its spending commitments that would have been funded by scrapping the non-dom tax status, but will "adapt" its plans "in due course".

A spokesman for the Labour Party said: "We stand by the commitments we have made on the NHS, for additional appointments, and for every primary school to have a breakfast club.

He added: "This is a humiliating U-turn, what the Government has done. Both Jeremy Hunt and Rishi Sunak have been repeatedly on the record opposing the reverse on non-doms, and if the Government had introduced those changes two years ago, when we first called for them, billions of pounds more would have been available for our public services, including the NHS.

"We will look at the Government's spending plans, we will adapt our funding plans accordingly, but let me be equally clear: everything in our manifesto will be fully funded, fully costed and we will set that out in due course.”

Budget will 'grow the economy' and deliver 'better public services' - Hunt

16:27 , Jacob Phillips

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the Budget will "grow the economy" and deliver "better public services".

Speaking at a Selco Builders Warehouse in London on Wednesday afternoon, he said: "Well, this is a budget that will grow the economy.

"By delivering better public services, means people will have to wait less long to see a doctor, get their cancer scans back more quickly. And also brings down taxes which will fire up the economy."It puts £900 in someone on the average wage, if you combine it with the national insurance cuts in the autumn.

"And the choice when it comes to election is between a party that believes the way we get the economy going is to bring the taxes down, or the way that you get the economy going is to spend more, and Conservatives believe that lower tax economies are more dynamic, and that is the big choice that people have this year."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the Budget will “grow the economy” (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the Budget will “grow the economy” (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Budget leaves London borough finances under 'relentless squeeze'

16:06 , Jacob Phillips

London Councils has said boroughs will face a shortfall of at least £400m in the coming year, brought about by skyrocketing demand for services, spiralling inflation, and many years of insufficient government funding.

Councillor Claire Holland, deputy chair of London Councils, said: “The relentless squeeze on borough finances looks set to continue.

“We’re pleased the Chancellor listened to the call made by councils and charities for an extension to the Household Support Fund.

“This fund enables us to provide vital assistance to low-income Londoners struggling with the cost of living.

“However, the extension is only for a further six months. This means less help for vulnerable residents just as the difficult winter months approach.

“Overall, we are left with little short-term relief and certainly no long-term solutions to the crisis in council finances.

“The fundamental factors driving this are the fast-rising levels of demand for services and the substantially reduced levels of resources available to us.

“Boroughs will continue to call for urgent reform of the local government funding system.”

Rishi Sunak 'recused' from policy talks on scrapping non-dom tax status

15:44 , Jacob Phillips

Rishi Sunak was recused from policy talks on the scrapping of the non-dom tax status to avoid any conflict of interest arising from his wife being a non-domiciled resident, Downing Street has said.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "There are established processes whereby arrangements can be put in place to mitigate against potential or perceived conflicts of interest.

"The Prime Minister was recused from all policy development and was only sighted on the policy once final decisions had been taken."

Rishi Sunak, centre and have a drink and biscuits with employees during a visit to a builders warehouse in London on Wednesday (AP)
Rishi Sunak, centre and have a drink and biscuits with employees during a visit to a builders warehouse in London on Wednesday (AP)

Budget included 'virtually nothing' to help London homelessness crisis - Southwark Council leader

15:35 , Jacob Phillips

The leader of Southwark Council has said the Sprint Budget has “virtually nothing to help us tackle the homelessnesscrisis”. Councillor Kieron Williams, also Chair of Central London Forward, said: “The capital faces an acute and growing housingcrisis. 170,000 Londoners – including over 80,000 children – are homeless.

“This is devastating for those affected, and it is placing unsustainable costs onLondon.

“Yet the Budget included virtually nothing to help us tackle the homelessness crisis, or build the homes we so desperately need.

“The Government should be increasing investment in new homes, and working with local authorities to prevent and reduce homelessness.”

Crime fighting drones

15:11 , Rachael Burford

One of the more eye-catching proposals in the Budget was a £230 million plan to use drones for fighting crime.

The Chancellor said the technology must be deployed “where appropriate”.

More the details here.

Shadow chancellor: 'It’s time for change'

15:06 , Rachael Burford

Labour points out that OBR figures show for every 10p working people pay in tax under the Conservative plans, they will only be getting just 5p back.

Rachel Reeves, Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, responding to today’s Budget, says: “The Chancellor’s Budget has lifted the lid on 14 years of Tory economic failure.

“Taxes are still rising, prices are still going up in the shops, and mortgages are higher.

“Nothing Jeremy Hunt has said today changes that. It’s time for change. It’s time for an election.”

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves with Sir Keir Starmer (Getty Images)
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves with Sir Keir Starmer (Getty Images)

All the housing announcements from the Chancellor

14:56 , Rachael Burford

There were announcements on capital gains tax and short term rentals in today’s budget.

Hunt promised that “building homes for young people” is a priority.

But the much trailed 99 per cent mortgage scheme, as well as stamp duty relief for downsizers and a Lifetime ISA penalty repeal to help London’s first-time buyers didn’t come to fruition.

Our Home and Property team have a round up of all the details here.

Susan Hall welcomes fuel duty freeze

14:42 , Rachael Burford

Tory London Mayor candidate Susan Hall says the Budget will help ease pressure on drivers.

“This is a welcome relief for drivers in London who have been suffering under Sadiq Khan’s war on motorists for the last eight years,” she says.

“Sadiq Khan has imposed his disastrous Ulez expansion tax and refused to listen to families and small business owners who simply cannot afford it.”

Susan Hall (PA)
Susan Hall (PA)

Sadiq Khan: Budget 'deeply disappointing' for London

14:36 , Rachael Burford

Sadiq Khan has branded the budget “deeply disappointing” for London.

He says the Met will remain “chronically underfunded” by Government.

“Due to the Government’s mismanagement of our economy, Londoners continue to face a perfect storm of low growth, cost of living pressures, soaring housing costs, and cuts to key public services,” the Mayor says.

“Tax cuts announced today go nowhere near making up for the huge hikes in mortgage payments and rents Londoners have faced.

“The Metropolitan Police continues to be chronically underfunded by Government despite the unprecedented pressure on its resources.

“And there was no new money for transport infrastructure in the capital, that would have direct knock-on benefits to supply chains across the country and helped kick start economic growth.

“Today’s budget demonstrates that ministers don’t understand the pressures Londoners are under, and they continue to starve London of the investment we need that would bring benefits to the whole country.”

Tories have 'maxed out the national credit card'

14:02 , Rachael Burford

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer is on his feet and responding to the budget.

Tories have “maxed out the national credit card” with a “desperate” Budget, he warns.

The Conservative government are “giving with one hand” and taking “even more with the other”, he says.

He accuses the Tories of leaving working people worse off.

“There we have it. The last desperate act of a party that has failed. Britain in recession,” Starmer says.

“The national credit card — maxed out. And the highest tax burden for 70 years. That is their record: give with one hand, take even more with the other. And nothing they do between now and the election will change that.

“If only it weren’t so serious. Because the story of this Parliament is devastatingly simple. A Conservative Party that is stubbornly clinging to the failed ideas of the past. Unable to generate the growth working people need.”

 (Sky News)
(Sky News)

SNP force Budget vote

13:56 , Rachael Burford

Hunt got a round of cheers from the Tory benches after revealing his budget,

But the SNP forced a vote, so this delayed the response from Labour's Sir Keir Starmer.

Tax cut from April

13:41 , Rachael Burford

Hunt announces a 2p cut to National Insurance tax, which will come into force from April 6.

He says: “It means an additional £450 a year for the average employee or £350 for someone self-employed.

“When combined with the autumn reductions, it means 27 million employees will get an average tax cut of £900 a year and 2 million self-employed a tax cut averaging £650.

“Changes that make our system simpler and fairer. And changes that grow our economy by rewarding work.”

Child Benefit changes

13:36 , Rachael Burford

The “confusing” child benefit system is set to be reformed.

Currently child benefit begins to be withdrawn when one parent earns over £50,000 a year.

It means two parents earning £49,000 a year receive the benefit in full, but a household earning £51,000 does not.

Hunt says: “Yoday I set out plans to end that unfairness. Doing so requires significant reform to the tax system including allowing HMRC to collect household level information.

“We will therefore consult on moving the High-Income Child Benefit Charge to a household-based system to be introduced by April 2026. But because that is not a quick fix, I make two changes today to make the current system fairer.“From this April the High-Income Child Benefit Charge threshold will be raised from £50,000 to £60,000.

“And we will raise the top of the taper at which it is withdrawn to £80,000.

“That means no one earning under £60,000 will pay the charge, taking 170,000 families out of paying it altogether.”

Non-Dom tax status scrapped

13:32 , Rachael Burford

“From April 2025, new arrivals to the UK will not be required to pay any tax on foreign income and gains for their first four years of UK residency”, says Hunt.

“But after four years, those who continue to live in the UK will pay the same tax as other UK residents.

“Recognising the contribution many of these individuals have made to our economy, we will put in place transitional arrangements for those benefitting from the current regime.”

Capital Gains Tax

13:29 , Rachael Burford

Hunt announces a Capital Gains Tax shake up.

He has a dig at Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner, who was recently questioned about the sale of her former council house.

Hunt says: “As part of this Budget, both the Treasury and the OBR have looked at the costs associated with our current levels of Capital Gains Tax.

“They have concluded that if we reduced the higher 28% rate that exists for residential property, we would in fact increase revenues because there would be more transactions.

“Perhaps for the first time in history both the Treasury and the OBR have discovered their inner Laffer Curve. So today I am going to reduce the higher rate of property Capital Gains tax from 28% to 24%. That one really is for Angela.”

Deputy speaker has to calm the Commons down as Labour shout down the Tory benches.

Landlord tax perks scrapped

13:26 , Rachael Burford

Hunt confirms he will scrap tax perks for second home owners who rent out their properties on Airbnb-style websites.

The furnished holiday lets laws allows landlords to deduct the full cost of mortgage interest payments from their rental income and pay lower capital gains tax if they sell up.

Scrapping it will raised £300m, says the Chancellor. Follows a long campaign by Westminster council, which has the highest number of short term lets in country.

Policing: Drones will respond to crimes

13:22 , Rachael Burford

Drones will be the first responders to some crimes, the Chancellor says.

Investment in tech will help police officers cut down on the amount of time they spend doing admin, according to Hunt.

“Police officers waste around eight hours a week on unnecessary admin – with higher productivity, we could free up time equivalent to 20,000 officers over a year.

“So we will spend £230m rolling out time and money saving technology which speeds up police response time by allowing people to report crimes by video call and where appropriate use drones as first responders.”

NHS: £2.5bn to tackle waiting lists

13:19 , Rachael Burford

“We will help the NHS meet pressures in the coming year with an additional £2.5bn,” says Hunt.

“This will allow the NHS to continue its focus on reducing waiting times and brings the total increase in NHS funding since the start of the parliament to 13% in real terms.

“The NHS was there for us in the pandemic. And today with nearly £6bn of additional funding a Conservative government is there for the NHS.”

NHS: £3.4bn for IT upgrade

13:17 , Rachael Burford

“The investment needed to modernise NHS IT systems so they are the best in the world costs £3.4bn,” says Hunt.

“But it helps unlock £35bn of savings, ten times that amount.

“So in today’s Budget for long-term growth, I have decided to fund the NHS productivity plan in full.

“We will slash the 13 million hours lost by doctors and nurses every year to outdated IT systems.”

Public service reforms

13:15 , Rachael Burford

A new “Public Sector Productivity Plan” will shake up the Treasury’s traditional approach to public spending.

Hunt is laying out spending reforms for the NHS, policing and education.

Plugging 900k job vacancies

13:10 , Rachael Burford

The 900,000 job vacancies in the UK economy cannot be plugged with migrant labour, says Hunt.

“One of the biggest barriers to investment is businesses not being able to hire the staff they need,” he says.

“The economy today has around 900,000 vacancies.

“It would be easy to fill them with higher migration – but with over 10 million adults of working age who are not in work that would be economically and morally wrong.

“Those who can work should. This is an issue I have tackled in every budget and autumn statement I have delivered.”

Film studio funding

13:07 , Rachael Burford

Lobbying from Pinewood, Warner Brothers and Sky Studios has paid off for the UK film industry.

The Treasury will provide eligible film studios in England with 40% relief on their gross business rates until 2034.

A new tax credit for UK independent films with a budget of less than £15m is also set to be introduced.

“For our creative industries more broadly, we will provide £26m of funding to our pre-eminent theatre, the National Theatre, to upgrade its stages,” says Hunt.

Pinewood Studios (Pinewood Studios)
Pinewood Studios (Pinewood Studios)

New British ISA, announced

13:04 , Rachael Burford

A new British ISA will “encourage more people to invest in UK assets”, Hunt says.

It will allow an additional £5,000 annual investment for investments in UK equity with “all the tax advantages of other ISAs”.

Pension fund reform

13:03 , Rachael Burford

The Treasury will “build on” existing reforms to “unlock more pension fund capital”, says Hunt.

“We will make sure there are vehicles to make it easier for pension funds to invest in UK growth opportunities,” he says. “I remain concerned that other markets such as Australia generate better returns for pension savers with more effective investment strategies and more investment in high quality domestic growth stocks.

“So I will introduce new requirements for DC and local government pension funds to disclose publicly their level of international and UK equity investments.

“I will then consider what further action should be taken if we are not on a positive trajectory towards international best practice.”

Money for the regions

12:56 , Rachael Burford

There are measures to address” historic under-investment in our nations and regions”, says Hunt.

The North-East trailblazer devolution deal will provide a package of support for the region potentially “worth over £100m”.

Devolve powers will be given to Buckinghamshire, Warwickshire and to “the most beautiful county in England”, Surrey, says Hunt.

Funding also set aside to support the SaxaVord Spaceport in Shetland, an agri-food launchpad in Mid Wales and for Northern Ireland’s businesses to expand global trade and investment opportunities.

Fuel duty announcement

12:52 , Rachael Burford

Hunt can’t resist a dig at London Mayor Sadiq Khan and the Ulez as he announces a freeze on fuel duty.

“The Labour Mayor of London wants to punish motorists even more with his ULEZ plans.

“But lots of families and sole traders depend on their car. If I did nothing fuel duty would increase by 13% this month.

So instead, I have listened... I have as a result decided to maintain the 5p cut and freeze fuel duty for a further 12 months.

“This will save the average car driver £50 next year and bring total savings since the 5p cut was introduced to around £250.”

Alcohol tax frozen

12:49 , Rachael Burford

As expected ,alcohol duty has been frozen.

It was due to rise by 3% in August but will remain at current levels until 2025.

Hunt says he had “listened carefully” to campaigners “who pointed out the pressures facing the industry”.

“Today I have decided to extend the alcohol duty freeze until February 2025,” he tells MPs.

“This benefits 38,000 pubs all across the UK – and on top of the £13,000 saving a typical pub will get from the 75% business rates discount I announced in the Autumn.

“We value our hospitality industry and we are backing the great British pub.”

Household Support Fund saved - for six months

12:45 , Rachael Burford

The Household Support Fund, which was due to end this month, has been extended

It follows a strong campaign by councils and charities who warned children would go hungry in the holidays and families would be unable to pay bills if it was cut.

“It was set up on a temporary basis and due to conclude at the end of this month,” Hunt says.

“Having listened carefully to representations from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the Trussell Trust and the [MPs] for East Ham, Colchester, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner and Suffolk Coastal among others, I have decided that - with the battle against inflation still not over - now is not the time to stop the targeted help it offers.

“We will therefore continue it at current levels for another six months.”

£90 debt relief charge scrapped

12:41 , Rachael Burford

The £90 charge for a debt relief order will be scrapped to help 40,000 struggling families, the Chancellor says.

“For some people the best way to resolve debts is through a debt relief order.

“But getting one costs £90 which can deter the very people who need them the most.

“So having listened carefully to representations from Citizens Advice, I today relieve pressure on around 40,000 families every year by abolishing that £90 charge completely.”

Tax cuts are coming

12:38 , Rachael Burford

Hunt says “growth has been higher than every large European economy” and unemployment has halved, which has paved the way for today’s tax cuts.

“If we want that growth to lead to higher wages and higher living standards for every family in every corner of the country, it cannot come from unlimited migration,” he says.

“It can only come by building a high wage, high skill economy. Not just higher GDP but higher GDP per head.”

Chancellor starts by announcing £1m Muslim war memorial

12:36 , Rachael Burford

“As we mourn the tragic loss of life in Israel and Gaza, the Prime Minister reminded us last week of the need to fight extremism and heal divisions,” Hunt tells MPs.

“So I start today by remembering the Muslims who died in two world wars in the service of freedom and democracy.

“We need a memorial to honour them, so following representations from the Rt Hon Member for Bromsgrove and others, I have decided to allocate £1m towards the cost of building one.

“Whatever your faith or colour or class, this country will never forget the sacrifices made for our future. In recent times the UK economy has dealt with a financial crisis, a pandemic and an energy shock caused by war in Europe.”

Sunak criticises TfL over road fines

12:32 , Josh Salisbury

Mr Sunak has criticised TfL over fines on major south London road.

Hundreds of motorists are said to have been wrongly fined on a stretch of road in south-east London after a "poorly signposted" new speed limit was introduced.

Transport for London (TfL) has introduced a 40mph limit along part of the eastbound A20 near Sidcup

The issue was raised by Conservative MP Louie French, who represents Old Bexley and Sidcup.

Mr Sunak says it is “disappointing”.

Sunak criticises Labour over Rwanda bill

12:25 , Josh Salisbury

Mr Sunak has criticised Labour over the Rwanda bill, after the legislation suffered a series of defeats in the House of Lords.

In response to a question by a Conservative backbencher, he says that only a deterrent will stop small boats.

“That’s why the Rwanda scheme is so important, and that’s why were so determined to see it through”, he says.

Sunak: We're steadfast in our support for Ukraine

12:23 , Josh Salisbury

Rishi Sunak has vowed to do more to allow Ukraine access to arms to defend itself from the Russian invasion.

In response to a question from Conservative MP Jack Lopresti, he says the Government is “steadfast” in its support for Ukraine, and that ministers are working “hand-in-glove” with defence companies to enable Ukraine to defend itself.

Starmer: PM is painting 'rosy picture' on criminal justice service

12:19 , Josh Salisbury

Sir Keir accuses the Prime Minister of trying to paint a “rosy picture” of the criminal justice system, saying it is at odds with the experience of women.

He raises safety in Westminster, asking when the PM will make time for a vote on banning MPs from Parliament who face allegations of sex offences.

Mr Sunak responds that it’s right that measures are taken to tackle violence against women and girls. He does not commit to a vote on banning MPs facing sex assault claims from Parliament.

Starmer: How can women have faith in criminal justice system?

12:15 , Josh Salisbury

Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer questions why rape conviction rates are so low.

He asked: “Sarah Everard’s murder should of course have been a watershed moment on policing reform on the criminal justice system and violence against women and girls.

“But the sad reality is that victims of rape who have the courage and bravery to come forward have just a 2.4% chance of their perpetrators being caught and charged within the year.

“How does the Prime Minister expect women to have confidence in the criminal justice system when almost all rapists don’t see the inside of a courtroom?”

Mr Sunak responds that average sentences for rape have increased under the Conservatives, and there is also an increase in prosecutions.

He claims rape prosecutions dropped under Sir Keir’s time as Director of the Crown Prosecution Service.

Sunak says officers accused of crimes should be suspended

12:11 , Josh Salisbury

Returning to the subject of police vetting in the wake of the inquiry into Sarah Everard’s murder, Sir Keir questions why indecent exposure is not treated with more seriousness.

Wayne Couzens had a series of indecent exposure allegations made against him before he carried out the horrific murder.

Sir Keir asks whether the Government will commit to investigate all indecent exposure allegations against serving officers, as recommended by an inquiry into the case.

Mr Sunak responds that indecent exposure is “abhorrent”, and that the Government would expect any officer accused of serious crime should be suspended.

Sunak defends police vetting process as PMQs begins

12:08 , Josh Salisbury

Rishi Sunak has begun PMQs by saying the Government has strengthened police vetting in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everard.

Sir Keir Starmer has called for mandatory vetting standards across all forces in the wake of the murder, carried out by a serving Met officer.

Sir Keir asked: “As a father, I can’t imagine the pain her parents, her family and her friends are going through in this anniversary week.”

He quotes an inquiry which says that there is nothing to stop another Wayne Couzens happening in the police.

Mr Sunak responds by saying police vetting has been strengthened, and that any officer charged with a crime will be automatically suspended.

PMQs to begin shortly

11:48 , Josh Salisbury

We are shortly coming up to Prime Minister’s Questions at noon, where Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer will face off over the economy before the Budget.

Mr Sunak was pictured leaving No10 for the weekly meeting shortly after 11.30. As a reminder, the Chancellor will deliver his Budget straight after PMQs at around 12.30pm.

Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions (AP)
Rishi Sunak leaves 10 Downing Street to attend the weekly Prime Ministers' Questions (AP)

Keir Starmer prepares Labour's Budget response

11:25 , Josh Salisbury

Labour leacder Sir Keir Starmer has released a photo of him with Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves preparing their response to Mr Hunt’s speech.

As a reminder, the Chancellor will make his address in Parliament at 12.30pm, which is expected to last around an hour. Then Labour will have a chance to respond.#

“If Labour is privileged enough to deliver the next budget, my mission-driven government will make working people better off for the long term,” said the Labour leader on social media.

11:01 , Josh Salisbury

No10 has just released pictures of the Chancellor briefing the Cabinet on his Budget measures.

Mr Hunt briefed Cabinet colleagues this morning, and has since posed for photos outside No11, which houses the Treasury. He has now left for Parliament where he will deliver his speech at around 12.30pm.

The Chancellor pictured briefing Cabinet on his budget (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)
The Chancellor pictured briefing Cabinet on his budget (Simon Walker / No 10 Downing Street)

Pictured: Chancellor leaves No11

10:53 , Josh Salisbury

The Chancellor has left No 11 after posing for photographs outside with the familiar red box.

Reporters could be heard asking whether Mr Hunt is going to pull out any rabbits from his hat in his speech, while another asked whether the budget would help turn around the Tories’ standing in the polls.

 (James Manning/PA Wire)
(James Manning/PA Wire)

Keir Starmer: Tories have failed on economy

10:33 , Josh Salisbury

Ahead of the Budget, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has accused the Conservatives of failing on the economy in their fourteen years in power.

He said: “Taxes rising, prices going up, and now Britain hit by recession.

“It’s time for change. Only Labour has a plan to deliver it - with more jobs, more investment, and more money in your pocket.”

Chancellor's constituency office vandalised before budget

10:02 , Josh Salisbury

Police have launched an investigation after Jeremy Hunt’s constituency office was vandalised as he finalised today’s Budget.

Doors and windows of the Chancellor’s headquarters in Hindhead, Surrey, were daubed with “Die Tory scum” graffiti in white spray paint on Monday evening.

Mr Hunt stood his ground following the attack and said: “The British people are famously tolerant, which is why we have one of the most robust democracies in the world.

“We won’t be deterred by a few idiots.”

It is the latest in a series of aggressive or criminal acts against MPs, their homes and offices.

Read more here.

Hunt tells voters: 'Stick to the plan'

10:00 , Josh Salisbury

In a pre-Budget clip released on social media, the Chancellor has urged voters to “stick to the plan”.

“Great budgets change history,” he said in a clip released by the Treasury.

“The bit of history I want to change is to show people that it is possible if we stick to a plan through all the ups and downs, all the challenges, it’s possible to have healthy growth, good public services and to bring down taxes.

“I think that’s what people want to hear, it’s a message of hope.

We’ve worked so hard to get through the really challenging period we’ve come through - don’t throw it away now. We can now that the economy is set for healthy growth … Stick to the plan.”

Pictured: Ministers leave Cabinet after pre-budget meeting

09:26 , Josh Salisbury

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (James Manning/PA Wire)
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan (James Manning/PA Wire)
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron (left) and Andrew Mitchell, Minister of State for Development and Africa (James Manning/PA Wire)
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron (left) and Andrew Mitchell, Minister of State for Development and Africa (James Manning/PA Wire)

Timings for the day

08:50 , Josh Salisbury

It’s going to be a busy day in Westminster. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is currently chairing Cabinet, where ministers are being briefed on the measures in the budget.

At around 10.45am, the Chancellor will leave No11 for a photoshoot holding up the budget red-box, before heading to Parliament.

At 12noon, there is the weekly PMQs, where Rishi Sunak and Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer will face off over the state of the economy.

Immediately after, at around 12.30pm, Mr Hunt will get to his feet and begin to present his budget speech. By tradition, the chancellor has been allowed to drink alcohol - otherwise banned in the chamber - when giving the speech, but Mr Hunt is expected to forgo that.

Labour will then be given a chance to respond with a speech at around 1.30pm, after Mr Hunt has finished his address. Around the same time, key documents underlining the assumptions in the Budget will be published.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) will later on Wednesday, at around 2.30pm, give a press conference on updated economic assessments for the next five years - into well after the next general election.

What changes are likely to be announced in the Budget?

08:43 , Josh Salisbury

Only a few measures have been confirmed ahead of Mr Hunt’s statement to Parliament on Wednesday afternoon.

But among those most expected is a 2p cut in National Insurance - which ministers will say will save the average worker £450 a year. Combined with the cut to NI in November, Mr Hunt is likely to bill this as a total tax cut worth £900 to the average worker.

Other measures which are being speculated to appear in the budget are:

- Fuel duty is expected to remain frozen, as it has for 15 years in a boost to motorists, alongside an extended 5p cut in the rate of the duty.

- Mr Hunt could continue the freeze in alcohol duty that he announced last year but is set to run out this August, reports suggest.

- A new tax on vapes, which unlike tobacco are not currently subjected to a specific levy

- Closing of tax-advantageous loopholes for owners of short-term let holiday homes, which would increase their tax burden

- Mr Hunt could scale back Britain’s “non-dom” tax rules, which gives tax breaks to wealthy UK residents who are not ‘domiciled’ in the UK for tax purposes.

Why is the Budget important?

08:38 , Josh Salisbury

The budget is where the Government announces the main tax changes for the year ahead.

Since the next general election is expected this year, it is likely to be the last budget before voters go to the polls.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), which scrutinises the budget, will publish updated economic forecasts and an assessment of the government’s finances for the next five years.

This means the forecasts will run beyond the next election to 2029, and could make gloomy reading for Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer, who polls currently suggest is on-course to become the next prime minister.