Chancellor Alistair Darling has promised a “sensible, workmanlike” Budget as he renewed his message that there would be no pre-election giveaways.

Better than expected tax and borrowing figures have given the Chancellor more leeway than anticipated - up to £12bn, according to experts.

But he said voters expected him to be realistic about the UK’s precarious economic recovery and prioritise measures to stimulate growth in Wednesday’s statement.

“A Budget for ensuring that we secure the recovery - because we are not out of the woods yet - but, crucially a Budget for the future,” he told the BBC.

Measures would be “focused on growth” - notably unlocking private investment - he said, with the unemployed also tipped to be offered extra help.

Mr Darling also insisted that Labour would not hold a second Budget if it won the general election, dismissing Tory claims that this week’s set piece would be “window dressing”.

The Tories believe faster action is needed to cut the deficit and would hold an emergency Budget within 50 days of taking office, at which they have not ruled out making tax rises.

Shadow chief treasury secretary Phillip Hammond said: “We don’t know whether Labour would hold another Budget after the election so this may just be a piece of window dressing we get on Wednesday.”

But Mr Darling insisted there would be no such second Budget if Labour defied the polls and secured a fourth term at the election - expected to be on 6 May.

There would be a Departmental spending review this year, he said. “but the two events - the Budget, the pre-Budget report - that is not going to change.”