The Chancellor's Budget speech emphasised the strong and consistent performance of the economy over recent years comparing it favourably with many other trading countries.
One can debate the extent of which this performance is attributable to Government policy, and how much to current or past policy initiatives. Nevertheless, there was almost universal recognition that the UK economy had fared better than many others and that this was beneficial to business.
Stability and fairly constant growth had been achieved, combined with low inflation and interest rates.
The key question is whether the projected growth rates for the economy can be achieved, since they are fundamental to Government policy and in particular, the tax burden.
Concerns over a "hard landing", a house prices collapse triggering a drop in consumer spending, were a little less than this time last year. Approximately 60 per cent of those polled felt that there would be a moderate adjustment, but very few anticipated a major fall in consumer spending.
This cautious, but balanced, view was reflected in views on the business climate for the next 12 months, with 50 per cent anticipating no change, 30 per cent expecting some improvement and only 20 per cent feeling that it would worsen.
This "feel good" response to the Budget extended to the Chancellor's commitment to reducing the regulatory burden on business. This was universally approved but with some scepticism on delivery. The regulatory burden on businesses of all sizes was seen as a real constraint on enterprise culture and growth.
The Chancellor will win many friends in business if he can ensure rapid delivery of his Budget promises on cutting red tape. Another major theme of the Budget was the importance of education and research, and the need for the UK to accelerate its move towards a high- tech, knowledge-based economy. The wide range of initiatives announced in this area are welcome, with a question as to whether they were fundamental and daring enough to enable us to meet the Chancellor's aspirational goal of the UK becoming the leading place for the next wave of research and development.
Opinions last night were more or less equally divided on whether the designation of Birmingham as a "Science City", was going to have a real positive effect or simply be neutral for businesses in the region. Once again, the ideas were applauded but we await evidence of delivery.
Unfortunately, much of the general support for the Budget waned considerably when it became apparent that business would itself be paying for the majority of the benefits.
This was not apparent from the Chancellor's speech - the relevant tax measures only appearing on-line. These measures are complex, but will impact most FTSE 250 and large, overseas-owned groups in the region.
At the very least, the changes will add considerable complexity and uncertainty to the tax system and as presently proposed, will directly impact the economics of many acquisitions and other investments. It will be some time before the full effects are understood, but tax revenues that the Chancellor anticipates collecting will materially impact many large groups throughout the UK.
Overall, response to the Budget came in two stages.
Initially, most thought it positive for business or at least "steady as she goes". Later, when the full scope of tax changes became apparent, there was more scepticism from the corporate sector who questioned the impact of the changes on our competitive position and as a destination for investment and as a place to locate group headquarters.