Much of the Budget was trailed in the days leading up to it, of course.
But when delivered in one fell swoop, it became even more apparent who the Tories are banking on to keep David Cameron in Number 10, with or without a coalition partner.
George Osborne clearly had one group in particular in his sights - the elderly - and no wonder given it is dominated by conservatives with a big and small ‘c’ and those most likely to switch to UKIP, in short a group who could hold the outcome of the general election in their hands.
Consider what he gave us. Yes, he increased the tax thresholds for both the lowest and highest paid. Yes, he gave first-time buyers a leg up the housing ladder. But most of all, he gave us policies that appeal very specifically to older voters.
The chancellor announced the pension pot lifetime allowance was to be reduced from £1.25m to £1m and confirmed the law is to be changed to allow pensioners to access their annuities. He even tried to woo army veterans, with a £25m support package.
Then there was the whole savings piece. Let’s face it, the young can’t afford to save and the working middle classes spent all their savings surviving the recession, so this one is for the older generation too. What will pensioners do with all this cash? Well, many will invest in bricks and mortar, which is great news for housing developers and estate agents.
So too news of another new ISA product - the Help to Buy ISA - which will benefit voters at the other end of the age spectrum.
So lots of cash will be swilling around the housing sector, but conspicuous by their absence were any pledges on new homes to fill the gap. There was little, if anything, to address the growing housing crisis. Where was the commitment to building more homes, more social housing, more shared ownership? Osborne’s speech was woefully short on answers to these key questions. As for London housing supply measures, sorry but we’ve heard loads of promises regarding public land before.
Away from releasing cash for pensioners and young homebuyers, there was more on one of our big topics of the past year: English devolution and in particular, the creation of a Northern Powerhouse. Property Week broke the news of Manchester’s deal on devolution last autumn and during his speech Osborne confirmed that and more. This is good news for our industry. More economic independence in the regions means more building, more investment in property and, potentially, quicker planning decisions. It’s hard not to shout ‘hear, hear’ to that.
The other good news was that there will be no reform of stamp duty. If the system had been reworked in the same way as residential - with big-ticket transactions heavily penalised - the industry would have been up in arms.
And there was also the much-expected review of business rates; not just a tinkering but a wholesale review of the 400 systems that have so harmed the property industry and small retailers in our high streets. Let’s hope it genuinely incentivises small businesses and retailers and revitalises our towns.
Other than that, it was national debt down, taxes down and economic prospects up. This was a Budget primarily designed to garner votes, so it was inevitably gimmicky - for all the chancellor’s protestations it wouldn’t be - but for all that, it was a pretty positive one for property. Given the industry’s usual whipping boy status in the run up to a general election, it could certainly have been a whole lot worse.