The Budget

Hushed in secrecy and carried in a bright red briefcase, the Chancellor's Budget reveals the government's tax proposals and spending plans.

The Budget

Revealing the Budget

Every spring Members of Parliament (MPs) pack the House of Commons Chamber to hear the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the government's minister in charge of finance, deliver the Budget Speech.

MPs, press and other observers listen carefully for:

Spending announcements
What kinds of things does the government plan to spend taxpayers' money on?

Tax proposals
How will it pay for its plans? Will there be changes in the amount of tax being collected from people and businesses?

The Chancellor's economic outlook
How does the government expect the UK economy to perform in the coming year?

What's the big deal?

In a word - money. In the days following the Chancellor's speech, the media will intensely analyse the Budget's impact on different groups across the UK. The government's annual decisions about collecting taxes and spending money are felt widely and will impact all kinds of people in different ways.

A change in the tax on petrol, for example, will be of particular interest to those who rely heavily on vehicles to get around or run their businesses. Changes to the amount of tax paid on a new home will matter a lot to those people in the market for a property. A commitment to increase the amount of funds for teaching science might please science teachers, but be less relevant to those teaching music.

Decisions, decisions...

Taking centre stage on Budget Day is the Chancellor of the Exchequer. As the country's chief finance minister, the Chancellor is responsible for the Budget and works with all the government's senior ministers to decide on the priorities.

Despite a few famous Budget leaks, the Chancellor's decisions usually remain entirely secret until the speech. This is, mainly, to prevent anyone profiting from having advance knowledge of the government's plans.

Parliament's approval

While the Chancellor has a lot of control over the specific details of the Budget, the government must seek the approval of Parliament before it can change tax levels or carry out its spending plans.

One of the main duties of the House of Commons is to provide the government with the money it needs to carry out its job managing the country. The MPs who sit in the House of Commons are also responsible for making sure taxes aren't increased without good reason and so the Budget is closely checked.

Following the Chancellor's speech, the House of Commons debates the Budget for several days. It will also debate changes to laws that allow the government to carry out its plans.

Because Parliament's other chamber - the House of Lords - is unelected, it has much less influence over approving tax changes and government spending. As the people's elected representatives, MPs are responsible for approving the government's financial activities.