George Osborne delivered a Budget stacked with facts, figures and policies intended to ward off Labour's cost of living offensive and get the electorate on side before May the reactions are already flooding in.
Here is a sampling of analysts' reactions to the final set-piece event of the coalition government.
BNP Paribas' Dominic Bryant gives his initial thoughts:
The chancellor has taken a gamble that fiscal responsibility, rather than pre-election largesse, will be a vote-winner. Clearly raising the tax-free allowance and reducing taxation on savings will help at the margin, but there is little in the Budget to take the sting out of Labour’s criticism on health service funding or public spending cuts generally.
The Institute of Directors praised Osborne's restraint:
This was a solid and responsible budget. Few chancellors would be able to resist the temptation to binge on a £22bn windfall from the sale of bank shares this close to an election. By using it to pay down our national debt George Osborne has shown commendable discipline.
EY's head of tax policy, Chris Sanger on the Diverted Profits Tax:
In confirming the introduction of the DPT on 1 April, the chancellor has been unflinching in his timetable and in his approach. This continues to go beyond international norms and positions the chancellor in the vanguard of reform well ahead of other nations who are waiting for the more structured reform of the OECD.
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, welcomed the Help to Buy ISA:
The Help to Buy ISA is a great idea. It encourages people to save, which is a far better way of tackling the issue of high house prices than increasing loan-to-values.
Getting a big enough deposit is a problem in London and the south-east, but less of an issue in the rest of the country.
Mark Littlewood, Director General of the Institute of Economic Affairs, took the opposite view:
Not only is the introduction of a ‘Help to Buy ISA’ economically illiterate, but such a measure will serve to increase demand in a housing market characterised by scarce supply. What we really need to help everyone struggling with the high price of housing is planning liberalisation to allow more building and reduce housing costs for ordinary people.
Andy Fyffe, director of EY's leisure sector team, comments on the 1p cut in beer duty:
The cut in beer duty of 1p off a pint will be welcomed by the pubs sector. Following the reductions in 2013 and 2014, volumes of beer sold in the UK increased year on year for the first time in a decade, helping to alleviate margin pressures experienced in recent years, boosting profits and ultimately protecting and growing employment.
Michael Mercieca, chief executive of Young Enterprise, worries that young people need more investment:
While recent announcements such as the 20 per cent apprentice wage rise are positive, we had hoped to see more commitment to support education in this year’s Budget.
We can see from this morning’s labour statistics that youth unemployment is still at triple the headline rate. Delivering financial and enterprise education to primary school children and making it a statutory part of the curriculum will increase financial literacy and financial inclusion.
Derek Leith, head of oil and gas taxation at EY, commented on the chancellor's support for the energy industry:
At last there is some positive news for the UK oil and gas sector with the reversal of the tax increase of 2011 and a move towards simplification of the regime with the introduction of a cost-based Investment allowance.
The PRT rate reduction is an additional boost for the most mature North Sea fields which have been taxed at a marginal rate of 81 per cent despite falling production and rising integrity costs.