The Budget yesterday was, as I expected , relatively light compared with most recent budgets. No doubt because the Chancellor has already indicated he intends to have the main budget in the Autumn from now on. The principal focus so far has been on the increased spending on adult social care and the increase in Class 4 National Insurance contributions which are paid by the self-employed.
The central forecast for growth this year provided by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility has been increased to 2%. Both business spending and household spending has been greater than was expected at the time of the November budget. Of course the overall economic situation is not changed by a single budget. The fact that debt interest payments cost the exchequer more every year than is spent on defence and policing combined demonstrates the long-term effect of the Country putting all the bills on the nation’s credit card.
Overall, I think the big message from the budget yesterday was that we must keep on the path we are on. Steady ahead towards putting the nations finances on a firmer foundation. As with all budget there are reams of background papers which put the meat on the bones and I will return to the different parts of the budget in the weeks ahead.