Autumn Budget day - perhaps no other day in the year is as important yet simultaneously, so insipidly dull.
Unfortunately, Chancellor Philip Hammond - not known for his Peter Kay-esque comedic delivery or timing - seemed to think the way to approach it this year was to swiftly pivot between Top Gear gags and news that the British economy is really, really f****d.
What resulted was a rollercoaster-ride of emotion in a theme park where all the guests wear grey suits, shout at each other, and all the European kids look like they’re having more fun.
The outlook for productivity growth, business investment and GDP growth has been significantly downgraded
Stamp duty abolished for first-time buyers on homes up to £300,000, up to £500,000 in London
Chancellor bowed to pressure over controversial Universal Credit with a £1.5 billion package to cut waiting period for payments and to make it easier for claimants to receive an advance
An extra £3 billion will be set aside over the next two years to prepare for “every possible outcome” in the Brexit process
Extra £2.8bn to NHS resource spending and £350 million available immediately to allow health trusts to plan for this winter
Basic rate income tax threshold will rise to £11,850 in April 2018 and higher rate threshold to rise to £46,350.
A further pay rise of £600 for full-time workers through an increase in the National Living Wage. It will rise 4.4% in April, from £7.50 an hour to £7.83.
£500 million investment in artificial intelligence and other technical innovations including driverless cars and electric vehicle charging points
Duties on “so-called white ciders” from 2019 will increase, but duties on other ciders, wines, spirits and beer will be frozen
Tobacco duty to rise by 2% as planned and 1% on hand rolling tobacco
Extra £28m to help Grenfell residents and those in the surrounding area
“No majority, little spare money, zero charisma. Philip Hammond was on the defensive before he’d even opened his mouth today. Thanks to more cash for the NHS and housing, including a stamp duty cut for first time buyers, and a surprise £3bn for Brexit, his Budget avoided the historically low expectations made of him.
“But the big story was the severely downgraded growth figures that meant he couldn’t do anything genuinely radical.
“Having told us he was “not deaf” to the public’s howls of pain over austerity, many voters will feel he is not really listening. Nurses won’t be delighted by the ‘jam tomorrow’ promise of pay rise and the housing plan -stamp duty aside - seems a collection of micro-policies that may be more spin than substance. He did listen on Universal Credit but only under intense pressure from his own backbenchers
“With Brexit looming, safety-first caution was his priority, technocratic tweaking and reviews were his method. Yet while Hammond tried to reassure his party that ‘nothing has changed’ on getting the deficit down, for both him and the PM that phrase remains the most toxic political curse.”