By Jonathan Davies
The Chancellor George Osborne has delivered what has been described as a "barnstorming" Budget for businesses, in the first Conservative Budget for 19 years.
He said was setting "out a plan for Britain for the next five years to keep moving us from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy; to the higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country we intend to create".
During the previous Parliament, the government cut corporation tax from 28% to 20%. However, Mr Osborne said corporation tax would be cut to 19% in 2017, and 18% by 2020.
This will largely be introduced to cover the added burden of the new National Living Wage. The Chancellor said the Living Wage would be raised from £7.85 to £9 by the end of this government, and the Living Wage will become compulsory from next year for over 25-year olds.
There was good news for the banks. George Osborne said the controversial bank levy, which has led to HSBC consider leaving the UK, will be reduced over the next six years. However, banks will be subject to an 8% surchage on profits. It's a measure that Mr Osborne claims will generate more money for the Treasury, whilst making the UK's banking sector more competitive.
The Chancellor announced a downgraded growth forecast for the UK this year at 2.4%. The forecast stays at 2.3% in 2016 and was revised upwards to 2.4% in 2017.
Importantly, Mr Osborne pushed back his target for a deficit surplus into 2019/20. He had previously forecast a small surplus in 2018/19, but now expects to achieve a £10 billion surplus a year later.
Two were two key changes in income tax announced by the Chancellor. First, the personal income allowance threshold - the amount you can earn before paying tax - will be raised from £10,600 to £11,000 next year. Second was the move to raise the threshold for the 40p tax rate will be raised slightly to £43,000 as the government moves to the £50,000 threshold previously announced.
Elsewhere, changes to the non-dom status were also announced. The permanent non-dom status was abolished, explaining: "anyone resident in the UK for more than 15 of the past 20 years will now pay full British taxes on all worldwide income and gains".
George Osborne criticised big businesses that benefit from tax relief when hiring apprentices, but offloading training to other businesses. A levy will be introduced to encourage big businesses to take on apprentices and train them.
In a blow to students, the Student Maintenance Grant will be switch to a loan system, meaning students will have to pay back the funds they receive during university. However, the good news is: the money available will increase. And students won't have to start paying it back until they earn £21,000 per year.
As widely expected, the Chancellor announced £12 billion worth of welfare cuts over three years, not the two years as previously billed.
Working age benefits will be frozen for four years. And child benefits will be limited to two children from April 2017 for new claimants. The household benefit cap will be reduced to £23,000 in London and £20,000 for the rest of the country.
He also confirmed cuts to benefits for school leavers, emphasising the government's 'earn or learn' policy.
Higher earnings will also pay market rent rates on social housing.