Cuts in income tax, cheaper beer and a cut in duty on bingo were at the heart of George Osborne’s Budget for “makers, doers and savers”.
The populist Budget also included £200 million to fix potholes - and even a pledge to double the number of millionaires created by Premium Bonds, the government savings bond used by 21 million people.
In his annual statement to Parliament about the state of the nation’s finances, the Chancellor also announced a series of measures to boost industry - including a £7 billion package to cut energy bills for manufacturers.
And there was a focus on measures designed to help pensioners, including the introduction of new saving bonds offering a four per cent rate of interest, to help pensioners with savings which currently earn miniscule rates of interest.
The Chancellor set a trap for Labour by announcing a cap on welfare spending, which will be fixed at £119 billion. It means a future Labour government would be unable to repeal cuts in housing benefit known as the “bedroom tax” without going over the limit or, alternatively, making cuts elsewhere in the welfare budget. Pensions are not included in the cap.
There was a potential boost for Birmingham Airport, with the announcement of an extra £10 million to subsidise the creation of new services from regional airports, while the entire aviation industry will benefit from cuts to air passenger duty for destinations more than 4,000 miles away.
The Budget came as the Government was able to bask in the news that unemployment had fallen, with the jobless total falling by 19,000 in the West Midlands over the past three months, down to 221,000, while unemployment nationally fell by 63,000 to 2.26 million.
But industry gave the Budget statement a mixed response, with Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce said the Budget was a mixed bag of helpful measures and disappointing omissions.
Chamber president Tim Pile said: “Keys measures that the Chamber has campaigned for, such as the direct funding for apprenticeships through paid tax breaks and the introduction of a new £100 million Future Workforce Grant, were not included.”
Labour leader Ed Miliband said living standards had fallen since 2010, saying: “The working people of Britain are worse off under the Tories.”
Key Budget measures included an announcement that the income tax threshold, due to rise to £10,000 in April, would rise again to £10,500 next year - effectively cutting taxes for many working people.
According to the Treasury, 238,000 people in the West Midlands will be taken out of income tax altogether this year, and another 27,000 will come out of tax next year.
The level at which the higher 40p rate kicks in will rise below inflation next month to £41,865.
There was a cut of a penny on beer duty, while bingo duty was halved from 20p to 10p.
And a number of announcements focused on pensioners - a group of people traditionally likely to vote at general elections - including changes to allow more people to withdraw a lump sum pension schemes rather than being forced to buy an annuity.
Mr Osborne told the Commons that the Government was “putting Britain right” but warned that the Treasury would continue to run a deficit until 2018. Only then will the UK actually start to reduce its debts.
He said: “This is a Budget for building a resilient economy. If you are a maker, a doer or a saver, this Budget is for you.”
Birmingham Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell (Con Sutton Coldfield) said: “The budget will stand the test of time . . . the United Kingdom today is in a far better position than most other countries.”
But Labour MP Steve McCabe (Lab Selly Oak) said: “George Osborne had little to offer those suffering from the cost of living crisis or looking for work in the West Midlands.”
Liberal Democrat MP John Hemming (Lib Dem Yardley) said: “The underlying strategy of dealing with the deficit is working. Labour’s criticism of everything has been shown to be basically wrong. And we are delivering lots of things, such as a tax cut for low paid people.
“I have been campaigning on bingo tax for along time so I’m pleased to see progress here,
“And I’m sure a penny off a pint will be very popular at Yardley Beer Festival.”
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “This was a pre-election Budget, with its giveaways aimed at the better off rather than lifting the living standards of the many.
“It will be paid for by further years of austerity, public services brought to near collapse, public sector pay cuts and a welfare cap that bites into the safety net that any of us might need.”