Today's Budget announcement has important practical implications for retailers.
With the British economy in dangerous straits, the government was under pressure to deliver a programme for growth - but many will be unhappy with the outcome.
So what does the Budget mean for you?
• The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects the British economy to avoid recession. It now expects growth of 0.8 per cent during 2012, 2 per cent in 2013, 2.7 per cent in 2014, and 3 per cent in 2015 and 2016.
• The OBR expects inflation to fall to 1.9 per cent in 2013.
• The OBR expects the eurozone to contract by 0.3 per cent in the next two years.
• The income tax threshold will rise to £9,205 from April 2013. The threshold is already scheduled to rise to £8,105 from next month.
• The top rate of income tax will be cut to 45 pence from 50 pence, from April next year.
• Taxpayers will receive a personal tax statement.
• There will be a new cap on income tax relief for those claiming more than £50,000 in reliefs.
• The headline rate of corporation tax will fall to 24 per cent from April, and then to 22 per cent from 2014.
• The smallest firms will get a simplified tax reporting system, in line with an EU directive.
• The government will “remove loopholes and exemptions” on VAT – meaning that more products will be subject to the tax.
• Alcohol duty will not change.
• Tobacco duty will rise by 5 per cent above inflation – 37 pence of a packet of cigarettes, from 6pm today.
• Fuel duty will not change.
• There will be a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” in planning policy.
• Sunday trading laws will be relaxed during the Olympic period.