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Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne delivered his sixth budget this lunchtime and the last before the General Election later this spring.


He said the UK would follow 2.4 per cent GDP growth in 2014 with 2.5 per cent growth this year, followed by rises of 2.3 per cent in 2016, 2017 and 2018 before inching up to 2.4 per cent growth in 2019.


Mr Osborne said inflation was the lowest on record and would be 0.2 per cent in 2015. He lauded rising living standards, saying the average family was £900 a year better off than when the coalition came into office.


With property a key big-ticket purchase driver, the new Help-to-Buy ISA — which will benefit first time home buyers — could provide a market boost. This will see the Government top up every £200 saved with an extra £50, so that a £12,000 deposit would become £15,000, which is currently the average deposit for a new house. The Government top up is capped at £3,000.


The Government is investing up to £600m to deliver better mobile networks, and is announcing a new ambition that ultrafast broadband of at least 100 megabits per second should become available to nearly all UK premises in the country.


The tax-free personal allowance is being increased in April 2017, to £11,000 — building on the £10,600 allowance to be introduced in a fortnight, and the £10,800 allowance planned for next year.


To pass the full benefits of the personal allowance increase to higher rate taxpayers, the Government will also increase above inflation the point above at which higher earners start paying 40 per cent tax. It will increase by £315 in 2016-17, and by £600 in 2017-18, taking it to £43,300 in 2017-18.


Support for companies looking to export to China was also announced, with the Government to make an extra £7.5m funding available to UKTI. However, the Budget small print suggests other industries might be ahead of the furniture sector in the queue for support.


In what — in time — is likely to have the most significant impact on retailers, he also confirmed plans to review business rates, following on from his announcement on 16th March that the tax would be realigned and fit for purpose for a 21st Century economy.

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