What to expect in George Osborne’s budget today

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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne will lay out plans to support a “resilient” economy in today’s Budget, with a strong focus on boosting economic security and aspiration.

Ahead of the chancellor’s speech at 12.30, Treasury sources said the government’s economic plan was working but the “job was far from done”.

Mr Osborne’s fifth Budget comes amid a strengthening economic recovery, with inflation falling and growth this year projected to be among the strongest of any Western economy.

The latest official figures, released on Wednesday, show unemployment fell by 63,000 in three months to January.

It is expected that the chancellor will later today unveil schemes, incentives and tax breaks for some businesses.

A further rise in the personal tax allowance - the level at which working-age people start paying income tax is also strong possibility.

Alongside details of proposed tax and spending changes, Mr Osborne will announce the Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest forecasts for economic growth and government borrowing for the coming years.

It has been insisted that deficit reduction remain Mr Osborne’s number one priority, with the ultimate goal of delivering an annual budget surplus before 2020. But critics have stated he has missed targets and has borrowed more than originally planned in 2010.

It is expected that later today the government will announce that they plan to offer up to £2,000 in subsidised childcare to working families following the next general exlection, a rise in the hourly minimum wage to £6.50 and an extension of the Help to Buy Scheme for aspiring homeowners.

Also predicted to be in this afternoon’s statement include a cut to bingo duty, extra money for flood defences and a requirement for banks to refer businesses whose loan applications they reject to alternative lenders.