Daily Mail

What else could Hunt have tucked in his Budget box?

- By Tilly Armstrong

JEREMY HUNT is expected to play it safe when he delivers his first Spring Budget as Chancellor today.

After announcing a series of stealth taxes in his Autumn Statement, there could be a few tax giveaways.

Even though public finances are slightly rosier than in november — borrowing so far this year is said to be £30 billion lower than forecast — Mr Hunt is likely to remain cautious about spending.

Here, Money Mail talks you through what to watch out for — and Paddy Power gives the odds of policy changes going ahead.

Price guarantee

IT IS likely the current cap on energy bills will remain.

The Energy Price Guarantee was scheduled to increase from a £2,500 average to £3,000 from April.

But following a drop in wholesale gas prices, it looks like the Chancellor will keep the existing level of support.

ODDS: 1/5 ON

Pension reforms

A CRUCIAL priority is luring older workers back from retirement.

As well as an increase in the lifetime pension allowance £ 1.8 million he could make changes to the Money Purchase Annual Allowance ( MPAA). This is the amount savers can put into their pension each year, once they have started making taxable withdrawal­s (currently £4,000).

Odds on lifetime allowance increase: 1/10 ON

Odds on MPAA increase: 4/6 ON

Retirement age

AS THE debate over the state pension age continues, it is possible announceme­nts could be made in the Budget.

The state pension age is due to rise to 67 between 2026 and 2028 and then to 68 between 2044 and 2046.

But this could be accelerate­d to hit 68 between 2037 and 2039. Odds: 9/2 AGAINST

Petrol prices

EXPERTS predict Mr Hunt will freeze fuel duty again — it’s been done by successive Chancellor­s for the past 12 years.

Last spring, then- Chancellor Rishi Sunak also cut fuel duty by 5p per litre, in an effort to keep prices down at the pump. This is also likely to be extended.

Odds: 1/5 ON

Childcare changes

HIGH childcare costs have garnered increasing attention in the run-up to the Budget amid warnings extortiona­te fees are forcing parents to leave the workforce or cut hours.

The Treasury is said to be considerin­g a bigger offer of more free childcare hours for one and two-year-olds.

The Chancellor is also expected to ramp up support for low-income families — increasing the amount parents on Universal Credit can claim back on childcare.

Odds on childcare help: 1/100 ON

Tax cuts

THE national tax burden is at its highest since World War II.

However, Mr Hunt is unlikely to make a U-turn on tax rises due to come in from April 6.

A planned six- year freeze on income-tax thresholds is expected to go ahead.

Corporatio­n tax is planned to rise from 19 pc to 25 pc — despite calls from business chiefs to axe the hike.

Odds on reversing income tax threshold freeze: 7/2 AGAINST Odds on corporatio­n tax cut: 20/1 AGAINST

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