Jeremy Hunt will present his budget on Wednesday as the country faces pressing problems with inflation, wages and public finances.
The budget comes in the wake of last November’s autumn announcement in which the Chancellor increased taxes as he and Rishi Sunak sought to restore Britain’s financial credibility following Liz Truss’ short-lived premiership.
This time, the chancellor is expected to focus on measures to get the various cohorts back to work as part of a broader push to boost growth.
Here’s what we know so far and what we can probably expect in this week’s budget.
Back to work
Efforts to get people in their 50s, chronically ill and disabled people and benefit claimants back into work are likely to be a key part of Mr Hunt’s plans.
Key details will include reducing the system used to assess eligibility for sickness benefits, paying parents up front for Universal Credit childcare allowance and increasing the amount they can claim by several hundred pounds.
The abolition of the eligibility system will mark the biggest reform of the welfare system in a decade and will mean claimants can continue to receive payments when they return to work.
Efforts will also be made elsewhere to tackle costly childcare costs, with Mr Hunt set to announce an increase in the maximum universal childcare allowance of several hundred pounds.
Mr Hunt is expected to cancel a planned £500 increase in average energy bills that was due to come into effect next month, with the result that bills for the average household will remain at around £2,500 instead of rising to £3,000. was previously announced.
The Treasury has come under increasing pressure in recent weeks to cancel the hike, which was due to take effect on April 1.
On fuel tax, some Tories have called on the Chancellor to act to support motorists facing a 12p a liter fuel tax hike in March.
A 23% tariff increase is planned for this month, but chancellors have repeatedly frozen the levy in the past.
Mr. Hunt has not yet said what he will do.
Action is also expected on prepayment meters, with the chancellor set to end the so-called “prepayment bonus” from July, which the HM Treasury expects will save more than 4 million households £45 a year on their energy bills.
It has been reported that the chancellor is considering raising the £40,000 limit on tax-free annual pension contributions.
This could include an increase in Lifetime Allowance (LTA) for tax-free retirement savings.
There have also been reports that the retirement age in the UK could rise to 68 years earlier than expected.
The Ministry of Treasury has been under pressure for months to increase the defense budget due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The prime minister has promised an extra £5bn for the military over two years, an extra £1.98bn this year and £2.97bn next year for defence.
According to Sunak, additional funds will increase spending from 2% of GDP in 2020 to 2.25% in 2025.
Any indication from the chancellor as to the future trajectory of defense spending beyond that is likely to be welcomed by MPs.
After months of strikes across transport, the NHS and other sectors in recent weeks, there is hope that wage disputes can be brought to an end.
Unions representing ambulance workers, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives remain in talks with the Department of Health, but Mr Hunt could potentially use his budget speech to lay out details of some kind of pay settlement to end industrial action.
Among the measures to be announced will be plans to streamline the customs process for the UK’s 363,000 international traders.
The changes are likely to give traders six extra days to submit forms after crossing the border, reducing the administrative burden for business, as well as fewer permits and financial guarantees.
Conservative MPs are pushing for tax cuts, even if Jeremy Hunt has so far seemed immune to these calls.
As always, all eyes will be on the chancellor to see if she offers any initiatives on tax relief for businesses when she addresses the House of Commons on Wednesday.