ED Balls will insist today that a future Labour government will not raise VAT.

The Shadow Chancellor, who has consistently called on the Conservative leadership to rule out a rise in the consumer tax - the Tories said they had no plans to do so before the 2010 General Election, but did so afterwards - will unveil the new manifesto commitment during a campaign speech in Birmingham.

The Yorkshire MP will do so as another poll puts Labour and the Tories neck and neck on 33 per cent; the former up four points and the latter up two on a similar snapshot last week organised for the Conservative benefactor Lord Ashcroft.

The Liberal Democrats are unchanged on eight points while Ukip and the Greens are each down three at 12 per cent and five per cent respectively.

In his speech, Mr Balls will say that while millionaires have been given a huge tax cut by the Coalition, working people are paying more in tax after the last five years of the Tory-led government.

"So today I can announce a clear pledge to the British people: the next Labour government will not raise VAT...and we will not extend it to food, children's clothes, books, newspapers and public transport fares.

"We will not raise VAT because it's the tax that hits everyone. It's the tax that hits you every day. And it hits pensioners and the poorest hardest."

He will insist: "Labour can make this manifesto commitment for the next Parliament because, unlike the Tories, all of our promises are fully funded and paid for."

Elsewhere in a TV question and answer session, George Osborne insisted Britain's economy still faced significant problems, which would take a "lot more work" to fix.

He said: "Although our economy is recovering and although we grew faster than almost any other major country in the world last year and although we have got a lot of people in work now, it is still a very difficult economic situation out there.

"That is why interest rates are so much lower than they have been in other times in our nation's recent history."

The Chancellor added: "So let's not think the problems are over. Not for one second do I think problems in the British economy are fixed. There's lots more work to do. The job isn't finished."

Meantime, Tory veteran Ken Clarke during a Commons debate on the Budget said his party would win the election in "a walkover" if politics were the same as 30 years ago.

The ex-Chancellor said the "cynical comedy" of today's protest politics meant that the economic "figures to die for" produced by the Tory-led coalition were not translating into the support they should.

"This Budget shows a competent Conservative government can finish the job," he added.