The OBR figures handed Mr Osborne around £27billion wriggle room and he moved to depict the Government as “the guardians of economic security.”

He used the room for manoeuvre to ditch his controversial cuts to tax credits and protect police budgets, perhaps hoping to neutralise his opponents’ main lines of attack.

For employers there were not too many surprises, with many of the proposals, such as those concerning business rates and enterprise zones, having already been trailed earlier this year.

Pensioners and low-earners will be among the main beneficiaries of the measures announced, but the news about a new rate of stamp duty is likely to be a big blow for buy-to-let landlords.

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