Frequently Asked Questions: The Budget

Useful information and related reading on the Budget, the Government's annual financial statement and review of taxation levels.

What is the Budget?

The Budget is the Government's annual financial statement and review of levels of taxation. It also includes the Government's future financial strategy and economic forecast.

Where does the word 'budget' come from?

The word 'budget' comes from an old French word 'bougette' which meant 'little bag'.

When is the Budget?

The last Budget took place on 23 March 2011. The date for the next Budget is 21 March 2012

Where does the Budget speech take place?

The Budget speech is made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer (currently the Rt Hon George Osborne MP) on the floor of the House of Commons.

Why is there a Budget every year?

Because certain taxes, such as income tax, are annual taxes (not permanent), so they must be renewed each year.

What happens after the Chancellor's Budget speech?

Traditionally, the Leader of the Opposition, rather than the Shadow Chancellor replies to the Budget speech.

This is normally followed by four days of debate on the Budget Resolutions (the basic parts of the Budget that renew annual taxes, such as income tax), covering different policy areas such as health, education and defence.

What is the Finance Bill?

The Finance Bill makes the tax proposals announced in the Budget into law.

What is the Red Book?

The Red Book (named after the traditional colour of its cover) is the Financial Statement and Budget Report (FSBR).

The Red Book contains an analysis of the economy and a summary of the Budget tax measures.

What is the Budget Box?

The Budget Box is the red, leather-covered box containing the Budget Speech.

Traditionally the Chancellor is photographed on Budget day on the steps of 11 Downing Street holding up the Budget Box.

What is the pre-Budget report?

The pre-Budget report includes a report on progress since the previous Budget, an update on the state of the national economy and announcements of proposed new taxes.

When is the pre-Budget report published?

The pre-Budget report was published on 29 November 2011.

What is the longest Budget speech?

The longest continuous Budget speech was by William Gladstone on 18 April 1853, lasting 4 hours and 45 minutes.

What is the shortest Budget speech?

Benjamin Disraeli's 1867 Budget speech lasted only 45 minutes.

Can the Chancellor drink alcohol during the Budget speech?

Yes. Previous Chancellors have chosen whisky (Kenneth Clarke), gin and tonic (Geoffrey Howe), brandy and water (Benjamin Disraeli), sherry and beaten egg (Gladstone) and spritzer (Nigel Lawson). Gordon Brown chose to drink mineral water. Alistair Darling and George Osborne also drank water.