IFS says coalition tax and benefit changes have hit poorest the most: Politics Live blog


Rolling coverage of all the day’s political developments as they happen, including George Osborne and Ed Balls’ post-budget interviews, and the IFS post-budget briefing

Osborne admits productivity is weak. It has been for many decades.

He is not someone who says there is no role for government; far from it. Government can help build a northern powerhouse. But it needs to sort out the debt.

Q: In 2003 you talked about financial products helping people avoid tax.

Osborne says he was pointing out that, under Labour, there were loopholes. In government he has addressed this. Rich business people used to boast about paying less tax than their cleaners; he stopped that. People used to evade stamp duty; he has stopped that.

Q: Would your new tax avoidance laws lead to Lord Green being prosecuted?

Osborne says he cannot comment on individual cases. But today he is proposing new criminal powers to tackle tax evasion.

Q: The prime minister says defence spending should rise. How can you square that with the cuts you are planning?

Osborne says he is not proposing deeper cuts. He is proposing cuts at the same pace as over the last five years.

Q: But people have a right to know where the £12bn will come from?

Osborne says the government has saved £21bn from welfare in this parliament. People can judge him on his record.

James Naughtie is interviewing George Osborne. Osborne is in Tilbury, Essex.

Q: Your plans involved what the OBR calls a “rollercoaster” of public spending. Will you tell us where the axe will fall?

And here’s the BBC’s overnight round-up of what’s in today’s papers, including a picture gallery of the front pages.

Here are today’s YouGov polling figures.

Update: Lab lead at 1 - Latest YouGov / The Sun results 18th Mar - Con 33%, Lab 34%, LD 8%, UKIP 14%, GRN 6%; APP -15 http://t.co/wcSPwG5PNt

Yesterday we had the budget. But often it takes 24 hours for the best analysis to emerge, and that will be the focus of the day.

George Osborne, the chancellor, Ed Balls, his Labour shadow, and Danny Alexander, the Lib Dem chief secretary to the Treasury, have all been giving interviews already. I will round them up shortly.

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