The Chancellor is a fiscal Conservative and monetary activist, and as such he eschewed shock and awe measures in this Budget, opting instead for sensible targeted relief that is welcome on this side of the House. Cuts to income tax mean that by 2015 a large number of income tax payers will receive a £700 cut compared with their tax bill of 2010. On child care, average two-child families with working mothers and fathers will get £2,400. Fuel duty has been frozen, and it is the longest freeze for two decades. The national insurance contribution cut of £2,000 is equivalent to someone just under average median earnings being taken on at no national insurance cost to an employer.
I support the house building programme that we have heard about. As someone on the dry end of the Conservative party economically, I have heard the criticism that it is Fannie Mae all over again. People wonder whether there will be lots of defaults when the interest-free period runs out, and whether the policy could lead to higher house prices because of supply constraints. I am sure I will hear those concerns again, but the reality is that we need an injection of confidence into British households. There is no question but that the ability to get on the housing ladder, including the encouragement to spend money, because consumer spending frequently attends the purchase of a new house, is the kind of confidence that the British consumer wants at this stage of the economic cycle.