General election 2024 timings: election date, King’s Speech and next Budget

The 2024 general election campaign is at the halfway stage. But when do we find out who will form the next government, and how does the transfer of power work?

The Houses of Parliament with a British flag flying close by ahead of general election 2024
(Image credit: (Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg)

With just three weeks to go until the general election, the race for 10 Downing Street is gathering pace.

This week will see several major parties launch their manifestos. We already have a clue about what some of them will look like from a personal finance perspective. For example, we know the Conservative Party plans to reform child benefit and has pledged to introduce a triple lock plus for the state pension.

Meanwhile, the Labour Party has targeted younger voters with its 'Freedom to Buy' policy, and is attempting to woo the business community. We also have a good idea about some of the Liberal Democrats' plans for government, and the policies Nigel Farage's Reform UK party stands for.

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Away from the policy arena, campaigning is getting dirty. Rishi Sunak has made a contentious claim that a Labour government would put up taxes by £2,000 over the next four years as he bids to turn around his dire poll ratings. Nigel Farage has also been accused of 'dog whistle' tactics for suggesting Rishi Sunak left D-Day commemorations early because he 'doesn't understand British culture'.

So, with the 4 July election now fast-approaching, what are the key dates you need to be aware of over the coming weeks - and how does the transfer of power take place? We’ve explained everything you need to know.

Who’s in power during the 2024 general election campaign?

With the dissolution of Parliament on 30 May (elections have to take place 25 working days after the House of Commons is dissolved), there are currently no MPs. Anyone who was an MP and wants to stand again is now known simply as a ‘candidate’. Almost all constituency work will grind to a halt until after the election period.

Despite there being no MPs, government ministers technically remain in their positions for what is known officially as the ‘pre-election period’. So, for example, Jeremy Hunt is still the Chancellor of the Exchequer. But there are restrictions about what they can do in the role that are set out by convention.

According to the Institute for Government think tank, they aren’t meant to announce major new policies. They can act on an issue if delaying it until after the election takes place would be “detrimental to the national interest” or lead to a waste of public money. So, in theory, ministers keep things ticking along so that they - or a new government - can pick things up with as little disruption as possible after the polling date.

Government resources cannot be used for party political purposes, and ministers are not allowed to undermine the impartiality of the civil service. Announcements and communications are also restricted. Any breach of these conventions is likely to be a breach of the ministerial code, with the sanctions for breaking these ‘rules’ up to the incumbent Prime Minister.

When are the key 2024 general election dates?

4 July

The first key date you need to be aware of is Thursday 4 July. This is the date when you will be able to vote - so long as you have registered - for the politician and party of your choice. Polling stations are usually open from 7am until 10pm on the day.

5 July

While the 10pm exit poll on 4 July will tell us which party will get a majority - or at least will be in the best position to form the next government - we are unlikely to find out the exact number of seats each party will have until the early hours of Friday 5 July.

If a majority government can be formed, we can expect the winning party’s leader to give a speech at some point during the day on the steps of Downing Street. Their words will set the tone for their time in office. They will make this speech after meeting King Charles to receive royal assent to form a new government.

Should Labour win a majority, convention dictates that Rishi Sunak will give a farewell speech outside Number 10 before heading to Buckingham Palace to tender his resignation to the King. Sir Keir Starmer would then meet the King almost immediately afterwards to take over the power of the executive, before heading to Downing Street to make a speech.

In a scenario where a party wins the most constituencies, but falls short of the 326 seats required to form a majority in the House of Commons, it may have to ask another party or parties to join it in government. It could take several days for a coalition agreement to be finalised.

After the 2010 general election, which took place on 6 May, it took five days for the largest party - the Conservatives - to get the Lib Dems to agree to join their coalition. The Lib Dems also explored a deal with Gordon Brown’s Labour Party. A deal was then presented to the nation by new Prime Minister David Cameron, and his Lib Dem deputy Nick Clegg on 12 May. It took a further eight days for a final agreement to be rubber-stamped by both parties.

There is a possibility that the government could operate as a minority in the House of Commons. But this would mean it would have to compromise with other parties on its legislative plans in order to get them passed. This situation would offer the worst of all worlds for investors, as there would be little political certainty until the next election.

9 July

The next date for your diary is Tuesday 9 July. This is when Parliament will return.

MPs will line up to swear an oath to the King, before electing a speaker. The following few days will see your constituency MP learning the ropes - or getting their feet back under their old desk - before the Parliamentary calendar kicks off in a meaningful way.

Between this date and the King’s Speech (see 17 July), we may see some opposition party leaders step down from their roles. MPs will also decide who chairs the Select Committees that hold the government to account, as well as who should sit on them (parties are usually allocated committee seats depending on the number of seats they hold).

17 July

Wednesday 17 July will be the date when we get a full picture of what the new government’s priorities will be. King Charles will take part in the state opening of Parliament, which will see him read out the legislative agenda for the political year ahead. This speech is written by the government.

The King’s Speech is then debated by MPs over several days. We can expect to see the next government’s first bills begin to make their way through Parliament from 17 July onwards, but it could take several weeks before any meaningful change occurs.

It’s likely there will be a Parliamentary recess at some point in July or August. Start and end dates for this break in the political calendar have yet to be determined.


The last important post-election date you need to know about will be the new government’s first Budget - or fiscal event. 

Given the market sensitivities around the Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR’s) assessment of the economic impact of policy announcements, there will be at least 10 weeks between the election and the date of the fiscal event. This is the amount of time it will take for the independent public body to produce its report.

Assuming the new government issues an instruction to the OBR on 5 July, the Budget or statement will not be able to take place until Friday 13 September. If the next government is superstitious, they may opt to move the Chancellor’s speech until the following week.

It seems highly unlikely that either party would do a Budget without the OBR’s report. After all, it was one of the key reasons behind Liz Truss’s downfall after the calamitous mini-Budget in 2022.

Henry Sandercock
Staff Writer

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 

Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 

After moving to - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.