Takeaway English 随身英语
The Budget 财政预算
The British finance minister, Alistair Darling
The British finance minister, Alistair Darling
It's the time of year when the British taxpayer finds out how much the cost of beer, cigarettes and petrol - amongst other things - will go up in the coming twelve months.

The Budget is the annual financial statement and review of the levels of taxation. The Budget speech includes a statement of the Government's medium-term financial strategy and the short-term economic forecast.

Taxes are used by the government to try to control the British economy as well as to raise revenue to meet expenditure for the year.

However, people are mainly interested in how changes in taxes and benefits will affect them. For example, if income tax goes up they will have less money, but parents may be happy because child benefit has risen.

The Budget speech is prepared and delivered by the finance minister, known as the chancellor of the exchequer, or simply 'the chancellor' for short.

A number of traditions surround the Budget speech. For example, the chancellor gets to his feet in the House of Commons at 12:30 pm. He is heard uninterrupted by members of parliament.

According to tradition, the chancellor is allowed to drink alcohol during the speech, though these days water is preferred.

The statement lasts about an hour. Afterwards, the leader of the opposition gets a chance to respond and criticise the government's plans. Four days of general debate follow.

This year's Budget is the first since Gordon Brown became prime minister. Alistair Darling, his replacement at the Treasury, makes his first Budget speech since becoming Chancellor.

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