Chancellor calls it a ‘balanced’ budget and uses eye-catching offer to first-time buyers to counter Britain’s deteriorating economic prospects

Philip Hammond placed a stamp duty cut for first-time buyers at the heart of his budget on Wednesday as he sought to mask Britain’s deteriorating economic prospects by pledging to “revive the homeowning dream”.

Delivering what was widely regarded in Westminster as a make-or-break budget, the chancellor announced a modest increase in funding for the NHS, and announced £15bn of measures to tackle the housing crisis.

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