Competing claims about achievements and charges of broken promises marked the last budget before the May 7 elections presented on Wednesday by chancellor George Osborne, who claimed economic recovery under his watch: 'Britain is walking tall again'.
Osborne's claims were strongly refuted by leader of the opposition Ed Miliband, who reminded the coalition of its promise to 'completely balance' the books by the end of the current parliament. Figures say that the budget deficit has only been halved.
Osborne said: "We took difficult decisions in the teeth of opposition and it worked. Britain is walking tall again. Five years ago, our economy had suffered a collapse greater than almost any country. Today, I can confirm: in the last year we have grown faster than any other major advanced economy in the world."
Announcing several sops on tax, savings, freezing fuel duty and for first-time house buyers, Osborne repeatedly claimed that it was only with the Conservatives that the people were better off, and asked them not to trust Labour.
He said: "The critical choice facing the country now is this: do we return to the chaos of the past? Or do we say to the British people, let's work through the plan that is delivering for you? We have a plan that is working - and this is a Budget that works for you."
In a fiesty response, Miliband said: "It's a budget people won't believe from a government the people don't trust".