George Osborne has defended his decision to perform a series of U-turns over measures announced in this year's Budget.

The chancellor said the plans he had dropped made up "less than 5%" of the Budget and that the bulk of the measures, such as creating a "more competitive income tax system", remained.

Since March's Budget, the government has dropped plans to introduce a series of tax measures including the so-called 'pasty tax', 'charity tax' and 'caravan tax'.

Osborne told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that in the face of opposition to the proposals there was "only one thing worse than listening, and that's not listening".

"On things like taxation of charities we got it wrong," he admitted. "Much better to say; 'look, we just won't do it', it's fine."

He said in his experience the bigger problem was when "politicians keep digging when they are in a hole because they are too embarrasaed to put down the shovel and climb out."

The chancellor said he needed to spend his time fighting the "battles that are worth fighting" during the current economic crisis, not on small parts of the Budget.

Osborne blamed some of the bad coverage in the media on the fact that a substantial amount of the Budget was leaked to the press before he gave the statement.

The number of U-turns performed by the government in recent days has irritated many on the Tory backbenches who are upset at having to defend a policy one day, only to see it dropped the next.