The freedom of Chancellor Gordon Brown to woo voters in today's Budget was helped by moves to change the timing of corporation tax payments by oil firms.
While giving away more than #1 billion in pre-election sweeteners to pensioners and home buyers, Mr Brown has boosted his coffers by #1.1 billion from the move to "modernise" North Sea corporation tax.
Tighter policing of avoidance of VAT, stamp duty and corporation tax should contribute to an additional #660 million for the Treasury, details of the Budget showed.
Oil companies currently pay corporation tax each quarter in a move that straddles the end of the fiscal year, but will now be required to make payments every four months, in July, October and January.
This shift in timing will improve the Treasury's finances for 2005/6 before corporation tax payments by firms such as BP and Shell return to trend the following year.
The action on tax avoidance and oil firms payments would leave the Chancellor with #265 million in his Budget kitty after paying for measures such as a doubling in the stamp duty threshold and a council tax refund for every pensioner household of #200.