In one of the liveliest Budgets in recent memory, chancellor George Osborne was at times lost for words. With the outlook for the economy significantly downgraded, some are saying that this is a Budget of paradoxes. For example, Britain will avoid a triple-dip recession after the return to negative growth in Q4 of 2012, but the economy is only likely to grow by 0.6% this year - a big fall from the 1.1% previously forecast.
The West Midlands region was fleetingly mentioned as Osborne confirmed the government's backing to Lord Heseltine's call for a 'single pot' of money for local enterprise and the country's 39 LEP's to share and promised to implement the proposal.
The Help to Buy scheme is welcomed but will it truly revitalise the housing market? And the announcement regarding £3.5bn investment in infrastructure is positive, but which schemes are set to benefit and how quickly?
As people digest the finer details from this afternoon's speech, here is some initial industry reaction:
Stephen Hemming, director, planning & development at Lambert Smith Hampton in Birmingham, welcomes the chancellor's announcement of £3.5bn support for infrastructure projects, but adds: "It is unfortunate that the spending won't come in until 2015/16, although it is appreciated that the money comes as a result of savings elsewhere. The question is what will be delivered and where? Will we see the big, potentially game changing schemes getting delayed by challenges as with HS2 or will it be the smaller, but in some cases no less important, projects such as new roads and so on which have been put on the back burner finally being dusted off."
Jan Thompson, Jones Lang LaSalle's Birmingham-based Midland chairman also welcomes the £3bn spending on infrastructure and acceptance of a single pot for local enterprise but states again the key questions on everyone's lips - how much will Whitehall release to allow the LEP's to proceed and when? I think we are all disappointed that the budget contained no news on how the government would allocate resources to regional LEPs, through the Heseltine Review. These proposals will be a real game-changer for the West Midlands, and there are clearly internal battles going on in Whitehall as confirmed by Heseltine in terms of the size of the pot," says Thompson.
"Until this is decided, the LEPs for Greater Birmingham & Solihull, and for the Black Country remain uncertain about when they can begin to implement their ideas for growth and make them a reality. And if you put this into context, we see that last month, of the 576 infrastructure projects highlighted by the government only seven have been completed. The country needs these schemes to be delivered and not log-jammed inside Whitehall.