Business leaders in the Midlands have called on the Chancellor to forget about a pre-election giveaway Budget and concentrate on cutting red tape and helping close the skills gap.
Both measures were seen as vital to helping British firms to compete with low cost economies like India and China.
The British Chambers of Commerce said a streamlining of bureaucracy was vital in order to reduce the red tape burden under Labour which they estimate to be £39 billion.
John Lamb, spokesman for the Birmingham Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: "We would really like Gordon Brown to reduce red tape and business rates; these are the keys which will trigger help for our exporters.
"Red tape and regulation has increased with every Labour budget, which means our firms have to spend an enormous amount of time and money to administer their tax for example.
"It is difficult enough for the big firms, but it is almost impossible for the one-man bands."
Mr Lamb said more help was needed to encourage firms to invest in plant, machinery and skills.
This was particularly vital as the UK moved more towards a value added economy, he added.
"Tax breaks would be a good way to encourage firms to invest in their future. But the economy need to be kept stable in order to plan ahead. The last thing we need is an election budget."
Mr Lamb's views were echoed by economists, who fear Mr Brown will endanger his fiscal rules by announcing new policies that could involve increasing expenditure by up to £2 billion in the current financial year.
Raising the threshold for stamp duty and offering rebates on council tax were identified by the City as possible measures that could be introduced by the Chancellor to secure votes among homeowners and pensioners.
Such moves could lift public borrowing towards the £34 billion expected in the City for the 2005/6 financial year, compared with the £33 billion currently forecast by the Treasury.
However, the view of many economists is that the Chancellor will stick to his guns and say that the growth in tax revenues will be sufficient to meet his borrowing figures.
Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to Ernst & Young's Item Club, said: "I think Mr Brown will argue that the economy is very strong and tax revenues are growing every bit as fast as he forecast and therefore he has some sort of wriggle room.
" With the election approaching, I think he will want to go for some increases in spending, mostly obvious headline-grabbing things that are relatively cheap such as increases in stamp duty thresholds."
Investec economist Philip Shaw said the chancellor was under pressure from some Cabinet colleagues for a degree of largesse as they fear a repeat of the 1970 election when a prudent Budget was followed by defeat at the polls.
But he added: "Mr Brown has very little room for a preelection fiscal giveaway, having already shot his bolt over the past few years.