Is austerity finally coming to an end?

Going into the Budget 2018, between leaks and political instability, few expected Chancellor Philip Hammond would have surprises left to spring.

Under pressure to support No 10’s ’end of austerity’ message and safe in the knowledge that it could all go out of the window in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Chancellor gave the most eventful Budget speech of recent years.

Minimum wages are to increase, stamp duty relief for first-time buyers is extended, fuel duty remains frozen, as do duties on beer, some ciders and spirits – all gestures intended to signal that sacrifices made by the British public have paid off.