Chancellor Alistair Darling has announced he will not carry out a full spending review of Whitehall departments in the upcoming Budget until the future direction of the economy is clearer.
Mr Darling (pictured) said detailed spending allocations would not be conducted, but reaffirmed his commitment to protecting the funding for the NHS and schools.
He criticised Conservative proposals to tackle Britain's record deficit and described them as an "unacceptable risk" to the economy. Instead he highlighted Labour's "absolute commitment" to halving the deficit within four years.
No date has been fixed for the last Budget before this year's election. This has lead to suggestions that Prime Minister Gordon Brown may avoid exposing the UK's economic troubles to voters by calling an election without a final Budget.
Conventionally, around four weeks' notice is given of the Budget date, leaving very little time for it to be announced ahead of the favoured election date of 6 May.
Speaking to BBC1's The Politics Show, Mr Darling gave no hints about the timing of his statement.
But he made clear: "I am not going to do a spending review now. What I have said is I wanted to protect the NHS and I also wanted to protect the schools budget, because both of these are absolutely crucial in terms of fairness and to our future.
"But I am not going to do a detailed spending review."