Of course, every day (and most evenings, and weekends) is red box day for Cabinet ministers, but few are as storied as the Budget Box.

The downward revision in European growth is bad news for the UK since it’s our main export market, and the Chancellor got his retaliation in early by starting with that and trying to spin a small upward revision of the OBR growth estimates for this year up from 0.7% to 0.8%. Unemployment to peak this year sounds pretty optimistic. There’s also been a letter from the Chancellor to the governer of the Bank of England reaffirming a CPI target of 2% but also that he wants to see an “activist monetary policy” (ie. more Quantitative Easing) which rather gives the lie to that. The predicted peak in debt is lower, but that’s likely to be due to taking on the Royal Mail pension assets.

Because of the overriding need to reduce the deficit there’s little room to move so this budget, like the Autumn statement, is “fiscally neutral” – that is it moves pots of money around so but spending levels remain as planned. In theory.

The next spending review will focus heavily on reducing the welfare bill. Now, call me cynical but that sounds like a hint that entitlement to benefits will be restricted along with the amount of money reduced in search of the £10bn in cuts that are on the cards. Obviously it would be better to get people off of unemployment benefit and back into work but that doesn’t seem to be in the plan. The pension age will be automatically reviewed in line with changes to longevity which is a smart political move to move responsibility for the upwards revisions which are coming away from the government and into a quango.

There were a number of specific infrastructure investment projects which had been trailed in the Autumn statement last year, including a softening up for Yet Another Airport in the South East – Boris Island? Investment allowances in content creation and oil fields are a good move to stimulate those industries (whatever you think of them), how much these are replacing the allowances that were scrapped not that long ago we’ll have to see the detail. I’m less convinced that what the UK technology sector needs is faster home broadband, it’s arguable that wider access to the internet for households not currently connected would be better. It’s also likely that software development as an industry is already too heavily concentrated around San Francisco and Boston for us to really compete with it and we’d be better focussing on the next thing rather than trying to hang onto the heady days of March 2000. Tax cut on patent’s seems nonsensical, they’re not particularly expensive, if something’s worth patenting the effect of tax on it will be minimal compared to the returns and discouraging duff patents is surely a good thing? Easier access to funding for startups has to be a good thing, we’re remarkably awful at it in this country.

There’s a couple of changes to the tax system, VAT on take away food and a freeze in pensioners personal allowances which means an increase in tax in real terms (but not cash terms).

If you want to see where your tax is spent you can go to http://wheredoesmymoneygo.org/ and of course many people already get an annual statement of what they’re paying in their P60s.

Corporation tax, which is already at a very low rate by global standards, are balanced by a change in the levy so banks don’t benefit and the levy meets the estimates in revenue – which implies that it wasn’t on target before that.

If you smoke get to the news agent, pack of smokes are up 37p from 6pm, alcohol and fuel duty are left unchanged (ETA: unchanged in this instance means “they’re going up as planned” not “the duty remains the same”).

The general anti-avoidance rule is a great move, that’s a big win the Lib Dems will be claiming as theirs. Stamp duty on houses over £2m was heavily trailed but the increase to 15% is huge and, as Ben Goldacre pointed out earlier today, will work to suppress prices at the top end.

The assessment of the 50p tax rate revealed avoidance by shuffling income into the previous tax year which was fairly predictable but could only happen once. Despite this and the announcement of a general anti-avoidance rule  the top rate is being cut to 45p which seems… odd.. to me. The tapering of child benefit withdrawl on people earning over £50k makes some sense from the cliff edge perspective but doesn’t’ address anomalies such as single income couples.

The increase in personal allowance to £9,205 will take many people out of tax, but the lowest earning 10% weren’t paying it anyway gain nothing from it. People like me, on the other hand, get £220 a year so thanks for that George.