This is a fiddly, tinkering and uninspiring budget with few crumbs of comfort. The centrepiece of the chancellor's strategy was to eliminate the budget deficit over the course of this parliament – but he is overspending by about £120bn every year, and there is little prospect of that coming down any time soon.
George Osborne deserves a cheer for reducing corporation tax, halting the fuel duty rise and knocking a penny off beer. But that isn't a recipe to supercharge economic growth.
Elsewhere, there are a bewildering number of new tax reliefs and exemptions, which will make the UK's impenetrable tax code still more complicated.
The coalition should have been much bolder in reducing spending from the outset. Having failed to do so, this has ended up being a very flat budget for a flatlining economy.
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