This could have been a good budget and one I would have welcomed, were it not for two announcements that made me see red: the pledge to scrap the Student Maintenance Grant and proposals to force lone parents of three and four-year-olds into work through the extension of the childcare voucher scheme. How very typical of the Tories to erect another barrier to further education for children from poorer backgrounds and to demonise single mothers.
Otherwise, as the Chancellor's Budget echoed key policies of Ukip's 2015 manifesto, it wasn't difficult to agree with much of what he said. Issues we campaigned for, such as raising the personal allowance to at least £13,000, thereby taking everyone on minimum wage out of tax altogether; abolishing inheritance tax; and raising the 40p tax threshold all featured to some extent in today's Budget, although it was a shame the Chancellor didn't take a stronger line on them.
While the introduction of a National Living Wage for the over 25s will, as he said, give Britain a much-needed pay rise, the small increase in the Personal Allowance to just £11,000 means the lowest paid will still pay tax on earnings considered to be only just enough to live on. Given benefits have increased by 20% since the crash though, while wages have gone up by only 11% over the same period, this is taking us in the right direction of travel, as is the reduced benefits cap. Given the new living wage will reap a full-time income of just over £16,000 a year by 2020, a cap of £23,000 in London can only be seen as generous. Ensuring housing tenants earning over £40,000 in London and £30,000 outside the capital should pay full market rents again seems fair, given the increasing length of social housing waiting lists.
What a shame though, that while the Chancellor did the right thing in capping the child element of Tax Credits and Universal Credit to two children, he couldn't bring himself to go the whole hog and also limit Child Benefit for future claimants to two kids. Neither was there mention of ending Child Benefit payments for some 34,000 children living overseas in EU member states, at a cost of £600,000 a week. How are those EU reform talks going, Mr Cameron?
Given that growth is predicted to rise to 2%, the continued 1% public sector pay freeze must be a cause for concern. I would prefer to see this freeze restricted to the highest earners, say those earning over £60,000 per year. I suspect this apparent distain for public sector workers will come back to bite the Chancellor should MPs realise their planned 10% pay rises later this year.
On inheritance tax, the Chancellor is again taking us in the right direction but, however you look at it, this is still a tax on death and a 'double' tax at that, levied as it is on assets purchased out of already taxed income. My personal bugbear as a single parent is the unfairness too of a system that means while my daughter will still have to pay inheritance tax at 40% on my modest London flat, the children of arguably wealthier couples in much larger properties will not.
On a more positive note, Ukip was the only political party to commit to the Nato requirement of a 2% GDP spend on defence, and the fact the Tories are now prepared to match this deserves a cautious welcome. Why cautious? Because Tory defence spend is likely to be something of a fudge, as it will almost certainly include war pensions and the new increased allowances for those holding the Victoria and George Cross, making it something of a mealy-mouthed PR stunt rather than a much-needed and genuine investment in additional military spending.
Finally, while Ukip supports the Chancellor's deficit reduction plan, we feel it is progressing too slowly. If the Chancellor had been prepared to entertain Ukip's proposals to review the Barnett formula (as recommended by committees in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, who have labelled the current system 'unfair' and 'arbitrary'); scrapping HS2 and cutting the profligate foreign aid budget, it could be reduced the deficit far more quickly without the need for some of the deep public spending cuts proposed today.
Suzanne Evans is the deputy chairman of Ukip, and authored the party's 2015 election manifestoSuggest a correction