The chancellor has insisted that next week's Budget will not spell out any new spending cuts and will instead focus on measures to encourage economic growth.
Ahead of the package which will be delivered on 24 March, Alistair Darling (pictured) also gave a bullish assessment of the prospects for a UK recovery – suggesting lower-than-expected unemployment could give him more room for manoeuvre.
However, any lack of detail on spending cuts could further fuel criticism that the government is trying to dodge setting out exactly how they plan to halve the country's record £178bn deficit over the next four years.
Interviewed on Sky News, Mr Darling admitted that the Budget would be "critical" in deciding the result of the general election.
"Of course it is important because the economy and the decisions we take that will affect the next five, 10, 20 years are pretty critical to the big decision, the big choice the country will make whenever the election is called.
"Crucially we have got to plan now to ensure we get growth for the future because growth is what brings jobs, jobs is what will bring rising living standards."
Asked if he would give details of spending cuts, Mr Darling said: "I will carry on spelling out what we have done, and the progress that we are making both on supporting the economy and reducing our borrowing levels, the deficit levels, that is important."