Jeremy Hunt Just Confirmed The Spring Budget Date – What Does That Mean For The Next Election?

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has just announced the spring budget will be officially unveiled on March 6, sparking new speculation over the date of the next general election.

While this particular announcement almost always happens in March, political pundits are reading into the early date.

Could it be the last time this government makes a major financial statement before the public get to vote on who is in government again?

The Treasury announced on Wednesday that Hunt had commissioned the Office for Budget Responsibility to prepare economic forecasts and public finances to be handed to parliament for March 6, alongside his budget.

Although the current government’s term does not have to end until January 2025 (five years after the last general election), for some time it has been theorised that the Tories were looking to call Brits to vote before the year is out.

The spring budget would be a chance for the chancellor to offer some glimmers of hope to the public – and possibly claw back some support – by announcing tax cuts and changing spending policy.

After all, the cost of living crisis is ongoing and the UK is still facing a historically high tax burden. The Tories are also still trailing in the polls (by 13 points, according to an Opinium poll for the Observer).

It’s pretty common for a spring budget to be announced in March, but by choosing a date at the start of the month, political pundits believe Hunt was suggesting the general election may happen before the summer – probably May.

That’s because an election has to take place 25 working days after parliament is dissolved (excluding weekends and bank holidays).

Parliament is already being dissolved in March because local elections are taking place across England on May 2.

Torsten Bell, the chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, posted on X (formerly Twitter): “Going early generally a good idea to reduce risk of major changes in last forecasts pre-election.”

He also noted the date would be “early enough to prevent fuel duty rising 5p on 23rd March as the temporary cut expires” – another move which could help win over voters.

Hunt used the autumn statement to cut National Insurance and offer more tax breaks for businesses – but kept taxes at their record high.

He could even use the spring budget to cut inheritance or income tax, The Telegraph reported, as PM Rishi Sunak is looking for a “gear change” to reduce the tax burden.

Meanwhile, housing secretary Michael Gove told The Times on Tuesday that the Conservatives will “definitely” be looking to reduce costs for first-time buyers in the run-up to an election.

However, the i newspaper reported on Wednesday that Sunak and Hunt may be considering an “election trap for Starmer on spending”, by limiting how much money is available for public services in the event Labour get into office.