The Chancellor George Osborne has delivered an Autumn Statement and Spending Review that he said will make the UK "the most prosperous and secure of all the major nations of the world".
Following the news that government borrowing was likely to fall less than expected this financial year, much of the attention was on Mr Osborne's economic forecasts for the next five years. He told MPs that growth for 2015 and 2018 would be in line with the predictions set out in the Summer Budget in July. But growth is likely to be slightly ahead of forecasts in 2016 and 2017 before dropping below expectations in 2019.
He also said that the UK is on course to report a budget surplus in four years, adding that debt will decrease in the years after.
After the Chancellor's plans to cut working tax credits were defeated in the House of Lords, many economists expected the government to introduce the cuts more gradually and for savings to be found elsewhere. However, George Osborne said that higher tax receipts meant the "simplest thing" was to scrap the cuts altogether.
Although Mr Osborne said police and security spending would increase in real-terms, he also outlined £20 billion worth of cuts over the next five years to areas like research & development for businesses, transport, energy and climate change, and a range of other departments.
But in more positive news for businesses, the small business rate relief scheme was extended for another year.
Solving the housing "crisis" was the key focus of the Autumn Statement. More than £2bn will be given to house builders to build homes for first-time buyers. And £4bn will be pumped into shared ownership schemes across the country. He described it as "the biggest affordable house-building programme since the 1970s".
John Allan, national chair of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Given the tight constraints that the Chancellor was working to, small businesses will be pleased that he has listened to their concerns. Mr Osborne has managed to fund areas that drive productivity and long-term economic growth, such as skills and our science and innovation base.
"He has also committed to funding critical infrastructure projects which are key to successfully rebalancing growth across the country.
"And importantly, small firms will be relieved by the extension of small business rates relief for another year, pending the full reform due in 2017."
Jim Duffy, CEO at Entrepreneurial Spark said: “The small business rate relief scheme being extended for another year is good news for start-ups, but I’d like to see the Chancellor go deeper and provide more tax breaks and support for entrepreneurs. We’d like to see more initiatives to help start-ups recruit, plus easier access to funding for high potential businesses.”