Rishi Sunak’s Budget contained more surprises than economists had expected, even with a host of measures having been announced ahead of time.
A sharper-than-hoped-for recovery from the pandemic’s assault on the economy increased the amount of borrowing available to the chancellor within his new fiscal rules, meaning that he could afford some rabbits to pull out of his sliders.
As the UK’s largest economic think tanks started to crunch the key numbers, their early assessment was plain: this was not an austerity budget, but neither was it a huge fiscal boost. There is also trouble ahead, with real wage growth set to be eaten up by higher inflation. And this very high-tax chancellor will struggle to sell himself as a traditional fiscal conservative for now.
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