MUCH TO the relief of those assembled in the snug bar of the Fount of All Knowledge, the Chancellor, Gordon Brown, did not deliver the Budget in his underpants. Neither was he visibly supping from a strawberry-flavoured Slush Puppy. So much for the predictions of Conan the Accountant, our resident doomster. True he did tamper with mortgage interest relief and stamp duty but not to an extent which troubled the assembled throng too much. Apart from Emma, Pedro's partner, who has lottery winning style ambitions on the property market, most of us who are seeking accommodation have our sights firmly set below the pounds 250,000 point at which stamp duty is first increased. A reduction in mortgage relief will cost us an extra pounds 10 a month on our mortgage repayments but given that a new mortgage repayment will be around pounds 750 a month I am not sure that we will notice the additional tax burden.

The good news is that the Chancellor has made it clear he has no brief for the property speculators and ne'er-do-wells who have conspired to send London property prices through the roof. He has promised us stability. He has not promised us there will be properties to buy but beggars cannot be choosers.

Perhaps more importantly Mr Brown has given me an opportunity for another housing- related enterprise. My reading of the Budget is that the Chancellor is offering tax breaks for loft insulation for the elderly. Not just tax breaks but also a ready-made workforce comprising the young unemployed.

I see myself as a kind of go- between bringing together the essential elements of this partnership between the old, cold and doled. I have learnt my lesson from the National Lottery operators and I can assure you that we are talking here about not-for-profit loft insulation. I will merely identify the draughty and put them in touch with some strapping lads fresh off the dole queue. I will require only a small fee for my services which will be, I assume, provided by the Government.

The notion of a gang of youths turning up at a pensioner's home laden with tons of insulating fibre unaided and unabetted is a little frightening. While I admire the Chancellor's attempts to introduce an integrated Budget I suspect he is pushing things a little too far here. He will require the voice of reason (Conan the accountant) and the voice of sanity (me) to act as intermediaries.

I think the Chancellor would have been better-off arranging safe passage to the South of France for the old and infirm. Properties are cheaper and the climate is much warmer. I am sure the pressed men of the dole queue will be as happy humping furniture as they are loft insulator. Not only would he keep the old warm and put the young in work but he would also free up a lot of properties in Britain, and I am all in favour of that.

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