This week’s highlight in Parliament is the Chancellor’s Spring Budget. The Budget is actually a statement in which the Chancellor of the Exchequer sets out the state of the nation’s finances and his plans for the year to come. As with all big parliamentary occasions there’s an element of tradition whether it’s the Treasury team photo on the steps of Number 11 or the use of Gladstone’s original Ministerial Red Box.
The statement is longer than is typical and the response is made by the Leader of the Opposition, in what is probably the hardest task in parliament. The ministerial rules demand all statements are given to the Opposition before delivery but in my experience the Budget statement is often delayed and when it comes it’s redacted, making a response even tougher. It does help however that traditionally neither the Chancellor of the Exchequer nor Opposition Leader are intervened on.
This year’s Budget will be a tricky balancing act of controlling rising debts to satisfy the markets but also prepare for an economy post Brexit. As ever it’s about priorities, whether inheritance tax should be cut, which would have only a marginal effect on my constituency, or invest more to tackle the crisis in the NHS and social care. But the real test is how Wednesday’s statement will seem after the weekend and whether or not households, after years of being squeezed, feel better able to cope.