'Omnishambles' summit at Osborne's country home

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Indy Politics

George Osborne is to hold a Treasury summit at his country retreat tomorrow in an attempt to prevent a repeat of last year's "omnishambles" Budget.

The Chancellor has summoned his Treasury ministers and the most senior civil servants in the department to attend the all-day meeting at his official country residence in Buckinghamshire.

The Dorneywood summit will thrash out details of all the main options for next month's Budget in an attempt to spot potential pitfalls.

Last year he was roundly criticised for raising revenue by taxing caravan owners, hot food and removing some relief on charitable donations. Under intense political pressure all the moves had to be embarrassingly reversed.

Civil servants have been told to prepare presentations for ministers on key revenue-raising changes and face questions on their impact.

For the first time, the Tories intend to involve Conservative Party HQ staff in the planning process to "politics-proof" the proposals.

"This is going to be a very political Budget," said a Treasury source. "George would be the first to admit he took his eye off the ball last year. He knows he can't let that happen again."

Among the options on the table for the Chancellor include further hikes in alcohol and cigarette duties and making further progress on the Government's goal of eliminating tax on the first £10,000 of income.

But the sources made clear he would not make the mistake of trying to "hide" tax rises in the small print of this year's Budget. "If we need to make tax rises this year we will do it openly," said a source.