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Balls tipped to replace Darling as Chancellor

Children’s Secretary Ed Balls has been tipped to become the new Chancellor as pressure mounts on Alistair Darling in the exp-enses row.

Darling has been accused of claiming living allowances for his grace and favour home in Downing Street while also claiming expenses for a flat he was letting out to tenants. He has repaid £668 to avoid “ambiguity”.

Balls was formerly Treasury economic secretary and was elected to Parliament in 2005. Before this, he worked as Brown’s economic adviser both in the Government and opposition and was Treasury chief economic adviser from 1999 to 2004. Balls’ wife Yvette Cooper is currently Treasury chief secretary.

As Treasury economic secretary, Balls angered IFAs with comments claiming it would be a tough challenge to educate advisers and by expressing surprise that so many advisers were still around when he arrived back at the Treasury. He also drew industry criticism for his handling of pension term assurance changes and the tax hit on alternatively secured pensions.

Cicero Consulting director and chief corporate counsel Iain Anderson says: “Balls made a major impression with the industry when he was economic secretary with his willingness to engage. As Chancellor, the industry would have a similar opportunity once again – just at a time when the Government is keen to talk about the importance of the sector once more.”

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