HM Treasury

About us

Budget guide


Since May 1997 the Treasury presents two economic forecasts per year. In Spring the Chancellor presents the Budget, and in Autumn, the Pre-Budget Report (PBR) is released.

Origins of the Budget

The origins of the Exchequer go back to the Norman period (1066-1154). The Norman system was based on two departments to deal with finance:

The word 'exchequer' comes from the Latin 'scaccarium', meaning a chessboard. The name was given to the court because counters were moved on a square table.

The word 'budget' comes from an old French word 'bougette' which meant 'little bag '.

The Budget Box

The 'Budget box' or 'Gladstone box' has been used to carry the Chancellors speech from Number 11 to the House for over one-hundred consecutive years. The wooden box was hand-crafted for William Ewart Gladstone, lined in black satin and covered in scarlet leather. Lord Callaghan was the first Chancellor to break with tradition in 1965 when he used a newer box.

In July 1997, Gordon Brown became the second Chancellor to use a new box for the Budget. Made by industrial trainees at Babcock Rosyth Defence Ltd ship and submarine dockyard in Fife, the new box is made of yellow pine, with a brass handle and lock, covered in scarlet leather and embossed with the Royal initials and crest and the Chancellor's title.

Mr Brown shared his photo-call on the steps of Number 11 with four trainees from the dockyard. There was an additional break from tradition in 1997 when the Chancellor and his Ministerial team enjoyed the first ever Budget day breakfast at the Chancellor's flat in Number 10.

Interesting facts about the Budget Speech

Budget broadcast

As soon as the Chancellor returns to his seat, information is made available to Members of Parliament, the public and the press. Details of the Budget measures are generally contained in a number of press notices.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer traditionally makes a Budget Day broadcast to the nation during the evening of Budget Day. The broadcast provides the Chancellor with a further opportunity to outline the intentions and ideas to the public.

The Opposition Parties have an opportunity to respond in their own broadcasts during Budget week.

Back to top