News Ed Balls denied the claim that he would go beyond a 50p top tax rate

Ed Balls could consider increasing the top rate of tax to 55p or even 60p if he became Chancellor, former Trade minister Digby Jones claimed today.

Andreas Whittam Smith: The triumph of political mendacity

There is no distinction between Mr Darling and the rest of the political class

Darling's growth figures were too optimistic, says poll

Businessmen are not convinced by some of the key arguments in Alistair Darling's Budget, according to a survey for The Independent.

David Prosser: Next's man never misses an opportunity

Outlook: Another set of results from Next and another pitch from its youthful chief executive, Simon Wolfson, for a post in a David Cameron government. Asked yesterday whether he could think of anything good in Alistair Darling's Budget, he replied "nothing".

Industry: Business rate cuts and extra lending cheers small business

Small businesses were among the chief beneficiaries of yesterday's pre-election Budget, as the Chancellor introduced measures designed to promote industrial growth.

Computer games: Games industry welcomes extra help

Video game developers yesterday hailed Alistair Darling's decision to offer tax breaks to the industry in a move designed to head off an exodus of top talent from the UK.

Business Diary: Repaying the good people of Hartlepool

Good to see Lord Mandelson, right, hasn't forgotten his old constituents since leaving the Commons. The former Hartlepool MP's Department of Business offered the French oil giant Total preferential tax treatment to open up two new gas fields in the North Sea. That has lead to a new contract for the steel company Corus, where 350 jobs will now be saved at its factory in Hartlepool, which will build a pipeline for Total.

Michael Brown: Darling is disastrous but his argument is plausible – the Tories must up their game

In autumn the Tories won the argument but focus groups said their message scared voters

Ben Chu: Darling giveth - and taketh away

So much for Alistair Darling's promise that this budget would contain no pre-election give-aways.

Chancellor announces 'bank accounts for all' plan

The Government today announced plans to guarantee everyone access to a basic bank account.

Alistair Darling to reveal 'bank account for everyone' plan

Banks are to be put under an obligation to provide a free basic account to every UK citizen under new measures expected to be unveiled by Chancellor Alistair Darling in tomorrow's Budget.

MPs attack 'ludicrous' Foreign Office currency move

The "ludicrous" decision to stop protecting the Foreign Office budget from fluctuations in exchange rates has caused an "unacceptable risk" to its ability to function properly, MPs said today.

On the Brink, By Hank Paulson

The US Treasury Secretary defends shutting Lehmans

Leading article: The bright side of the banks

Alistair Darling is not used to receiving so much good news. Hot on the heels of Thursday's surprisingly resilient government borrowing figures arrives the unexpected revelation from Lloyds Banking Group, in which the taxpayer owns a 41 per cent stake, that it now hopes to turn a profit this year.

David Prosser: Darling faces another row with Brown

Outlook Be careful what you wish for. Alistair Darling will be delighted that government borrowing now looks set to come in well below the forecasts he made three months ago in his pre-Budget report – such revisions have generally been the other way round with this Government in recent times. Still, now the Chancellor has a tricky decision to make: does he spend his windfall next week on Budget sweeteners for swing voters, or leave it in the bank as a downpayment on deficit reduction?

Econoblog: Borrowing - not as bad as it might have been

The long and short of it is that Alistair Darling will have maybe another £15bn to splash around in next weeks Budget.

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