Fun facts about the Budget

8 March 2017

Today sees the last spring Budget, with future Budgets to be delivered in the autumn rather than in March or April of each year.

The Budget is a financial statement made annually by the Chancellor of the Exchequer – currently Philip Hammond – to the House of Commons. It covers the nation’s finances, plans for any tax changes, and forecasts for the economy.  

Some measures, such as any changes to the rates of duty on alcohol and tobacco, take effect on Budget day.

Moneywise will be covering all the key personal finance news announced in today’s Budget in our news section.

But in the meantime, here are some interesting facts from about the Budget.

  • The word Budget comes from an old French word ‘bougette’ meaning little bag. It was customary to bring the statement on financial policy to the House of Commons in a leather bag. The modern equivalent of the bag is the red despatch box or Budget box.
  • The wooden box was first used in 1860 by William Gladstone and was used consecutively until 1965 when Lord Callaghan used a new box.
  • In 1997, Gordon Brown became the second Chancellor to use a new box.
  • George Osborne used the Gladstone box for his first Budget in 2010 before switching to a new box in 2011.
  • The Budget usually takes place on a Wednesday after Prime Ministers’ Questions but it can take place on any day of the week.
  • Chancellors, unlike Ministers at the despatch box, can drink alcohol during the Budget Speech. The last Chancellor to do so was Kenneth Clarke, whose tipple of choice was whisky.
  • The longest continuous Budget speech was by William Gladstone on 18 April 1853. It lasted four hours and 45 minutes.
  • In contrast, Benjamin Disraeli’s 1867 Budget speech lasted only 45 minutes.
  • With 12 Budget speeches, William Gladstone holds the record for delivering more Budget speeches than any other Chancellor.