Alistair Darling prepares for pre-budget report

Chancellor of the Exchequer Alistair Darling will be revealing the state of the economy and the country’s finances during the pre-budget report – the last before the general election.

His speech is expected to confirm that annual borrowing will top £175bn, which the government has promised to halve within four years.

With a general election next year, Darling is expected to open up a dividing line between Labour and the Conservatives on the big issues of spending, taxes and cuts.


It will not provide detailed spending plans for individual departments because it is not a spending review. However, Darling has said that public spending would be much tighter. There have been suggestions that he might indicate ring-fencing some big areas of public spending such as health and education.

Prime minister Gordon Brown has already said that efficiency savings would help to save £12bn over four years.

There will also be a major streamlining of arm’s-length bodies, with 120 targeted for abolition, which could have implications for social care.

It comes near the end of a review of the roles of the General Social Care Council, Social Care Institute for Excellence, and Skills for Care, and just after the government announced a Social Work Reform Board to oversee the implementation of the Social Work Task Force report.

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