'Support for savers' was meant to be one of the key Budget themes. Until recently it seemed likely that the Chancellor would be announcing a radical shake-up of pension saving. But in the face of fierce of opposition from industry, the media and many backbench MPs, the Treasury has now ruled out any changes to pension tax relief in this Budget...
As the Budget approaches we await the details of deep cuts in welfare spending, but the fact that they are coming is beyond doubt. Every sinew is being strained in the cause of deficit reduction. Or is it? Largely absent from public debate to date is the more than £100billion that goes each year into tax reliefs - lower taxes for particular groups or activities.
Amid the flurry of pre-election pledges made by each party, the Conservatives' 'Tax-Free Minimum Wage' attracted a curious mix of attention... Rather than a trivial tweak, the implications of this policy are potentially substantial and could lead to additional tax cuts, which could be announced as early as at next week's Budget.
The General Election is just 10 months away. But the focus of its debate is a generational challenge to share the benefits of growth, in an environment of ongoing reductions in public spending. The good news is that the current squeeze in living standards is not inevitable and there are choices we make to reach a different outcome.
While low pay and in-work poverty have risen up the economic agenda in recent years, our policy debate has been stuck in a loop. Ask most Labour politicians about low pay and you can expect a well-intentioned but passive mixture of pride in the minimum wage and warm words on the living wage before the topic is changed to the importance of protecting support like working tax credits.
Amidst this week's economic gloom were two bright spots of the jobs market. First, new stats from the ONS led to widespread reports that employment had again reached record levels, with the number of people in work rising 131,000 in the quarter to 29.7 million. Then the OBR upgraded its forecasts for employment over the next few years.
As the prime minister and leading commentators have been fond of pointing out - and rightly so - employment is now back to pre-crisis levels, making this one of the few economic indicators not keeping the Chancellor up at night. Yet step back from a narrow focus on the number of people in work and the challenge we face on employment is daunting.