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Budget 'sticking to the course'
George Osborne has taken to Twitter to tell the electorate his Budget will 'help those who want to work hard and get on'
The Budget will show the Government "sticking to the course of tackling the deficit whilst continuing to support aspiration", Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman has said.
As he prepared for a crucial statement delivered to the House of Commons against a backdrop of gloomy economic news, Chancellor George Osborne promised "a Budget that tackles the economy's problems head-on, helping those who want to work hard and get on".
But, with official figures this morning showing that unemployment has risen by 7,000 to 2.52 million, Labour pressed the Chancellor to admit his austerity programme has failed and change the course of his economic policy.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said the Chancellor should be "undoing the damage he has done to family budgets, investing properly in our infrastructure and getting growth moving".
"What I want to hear from the Chancellor today is a willingness to change course, not more of the same. His economic plan is failing. It's failing Britain's businesses and Britain's families," said Mr Miliband.
Mr Osborne is expected to offer help to hard-pressed families by speeding up progress towards a £10,000 tax-free personal allowance. Hopes are high among motorists and drinkers that he will delay or even scrap a fuel duty hike scheduled for the autumn and abolish the so-called beer tax escalator.
But the financial package is set to be dominated by questions about how to revive the ailing economy, with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) likely to downgrade growth forecasts and predict sharply higher borrowing.
Mr Osborne has already signalled that a fresh round of cuts will be imposed on some Whitehall departments over the next two years to free up £2.5 billion for extra spending on housing and other infrastructure.
Mr Cameron's spokesman said there was a warm welcome from Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers when the Chancellor outlined his package at an morning meeting of Cabinet in 10 Downing Street.
"There was strong agreement around the table that the approach the Chancellor will set out is the right one," said the spokesman.