In a first reaction to the main macro economic aspects of today's Budget speech, David Kern, Economic Adviser to the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

"The Chancellor's Budget economic forecasts remain unduly optimistic. The growth forecasts of 1.75%-2.25% for 2008 and 2.25%-2.75% for 2009 remain somewhat too high, even though the Chancellor was right to reduce the previous forecast he made in the pre-Budget report.

"In the area of public finances the total borrowing figures, £36 billion for 2007/08 and £43 billion for 2008/09, are realistic and the Chancellor was right to allow an increase in borrowing in the next financial year. However, the subsequent sharp reduction in borrowing beyond 2009 is again unduly optimistic.

"Over the medium term there is a very major risk that the fiscal rules would be breached without further action. It is also disappointing that the Chancellor has not taken the opportunity to announce a significant move towards a more realistic set of fiscal rules."