Budget 2012 Live Blog - The Build-up To Osborne's Speech On 21 March
UPDATE : This story is no longer being updated. The latest 2012 Budget stories can be found on our Big Budget News Page
Chancellor George Osborne will deliver his 2012 Budget on Wednesday the 21st of March. It comes at a time of uncertainty for the UK economy, with some encouraging signs that the first quarter of 2012 has seen some growth. But unemployment is still rising, despite signs that the private sector job creation is finally outstripping the mounting job losses in the public sector.
This is George Osborne's third budget. His first so-called "emergency budget" took place just after the 2010 general election, and came ahead of a comprehensive spending review which slashed funding in almost every government department, apart from health and international development.
Last year the centrepiece of his second Budget was a £2 billion-a-year windfall levy on North Sea oil, used to fund an immediate cut in fuel duty of 1p per litre. Billed as "putting fuel in the tank" of the UK economy, his measures didn't lead to an immediate return to growth.
In fact the economy shrank slightly at the end of 2011, but not before Osborne was forced to admit that he'd have to borrow more than £150bn extra in his Autumn Statement, and that the deficit reduction plan which looms over almost everything the government does was off-track.
The coalition claims the Eurozone crisis and general global financial uncertainty are behind the missed targets and lacklustre growth forecasts. The same thing is happening everywhere, they say.
Labour still insist that the Chancellor is cutting too fast, and point to the US, which has seen encouraging growth in the past six months. Ed Balls says this was a result of President Obama's stimulus package, which pumped $800bn dollars of US taxpayers' money into the economy.
A year on from the "fuel in the tank" budget, petrol prices remain at a record high, and the Chancellor is once again under pressure to help motorists. The government insists it still has very little money to play with, and Osborne will have to balance Lib Dem calls to raise the tax allowance threshold to anything up to £10,000 with Tory calls to cut the 50p top rate of tax.
Tories believe that it raises very little revenue for the Treasury, but discourages business investment in Britain. The Lib Dems have signalled they might take the abolition of the 50p tax on the chin, but only if some other tax on the wealthy is introduced instead.
This could take the form of a Tycoon Tax, something Nick Clegg was keen to push at his party's spring conference earlier this month.
Between now and Wednesday we'll be following the demands, the leaks and the rumours as they break, all the way to the dispatch box of the House of Commons.
And elsewhere on HuffPost, every story and blog on the budget so far that we've published can be found here.