The Chancellor slashed the official growth forecast in half today as he admitted the recovery was taking "longer than anyone hoped".

He said the economy would grow by just 0.6% this year - down from the previous forecast of 1.2% - and would be slower than forecast next year at 1.8% compared to the 2% forecast at the time of the Autumn Statement.

He described today’s package as a "Budget for people who aspire to work hard and get on".

But he added: "Today, I’m going to level with people about the difficult economic circumstances we still face and the hard decisions required to deal with them."

Mr Osborne delivered his Budget to a rowdy House of Commons in which the deputy speaker was forced to intervene repeatedly.

As he rose to speak London’s Evening Standard reported that he would cut a penny off a pint of beer as well as scrapping the planned 3p a litre rise in fuel duty due in September.