Full coverage of budget with the Star

CHANCELLOR Alistair Darling was today preparing to deliver one of the most difficult budgets for a generation as he attempts to chart a course out of recession.

CHANCELLOR Alistair Darling was today preparing to deliver one of the most difficult budgets for a generation as he attempts to chart a course out of recession.

The Evening Star will be carrying full budget coverage on our website during and after his speech which is due to start at 12.30pm today.

We will have expert analysis from Yvonne Graham of Ensors as well as up-to-date coverage of Mr Darling's speech from the House of Commons.

With the economy mired in recession, Mr Darling has already indicated that he will sharply downgrade his forecasts for output - which are expected to confirm that the UK is in the most savage downturn since the Second World War.

At the same time, the worsening state of the public finances - with borrowing expected to hit �160 billion this year - has left him little scope for fresh action to revive the economy.

Bank of England Governor Mervyn King has already warned that the Government cannot afford a repeat of the �20 billion "stimulus" package announced by Mr Darling in the Pre-Budget Report (PBR) in November.

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Instead, he looks set to be confined to a more modest set of measures - including some "targeted' action to help the unemployed as the dole queues continue to lengthen.

Mr Darling will also issue his own estimate of the cost of the bank bail-out - put at �60 billion according to reports - admitting for the first time that the Government may not recover the full costs.

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