Chancellor George Osborne presented his fourth budget to the House of Commons today, sandwiched between December’s Autumn Statement and June’s Spending Review. Speaking to a raucous House of Commons, the Chancellor managed to deliver some surprises against a background of grim economic tidings.

As ever caveats about the need to consider the content of the Treasury’s Red Book (the document that sets out the minutiae not covered in the Chancellor’s statement) apply, but some of the most significant announcements to emerge from today’s budget include:

Significant new support for home ownership, through equity loans and mortgage guaranteesA reduction in Corporation Tax to 20 per cent by 2015Halving of the 1.2 per cent growth forecast made in the 2013 Autumn StatementInevitably popular measures to freeze fuel duty and cut duty on beer.

The Background

The Chancellor was under considerable pressure, with ongoing nationwide dismay at the limpness of the economic recovery, as well as the recent loss of the AAA credit rating and the need to avoid a repetition of last year’s much ridiculed ‘omnishambles budget’. The furore surrounding the so-called granny, pasty and caravan taxes may be memories now, but not as distant as the Chancellor would like.

Nevertheless, the Chancellor struck a determinedly positive note in advance of his statement, repeating pledges to help “those who want to work hard and get on” and there were some significant measures to appeal to the so-called strivers in the squeezed middle that he has in mind. This was, in his words, a Budget for our “aspiration nation”.   Click here to read more …