The budget for the East

Offshore platform
Image caption Tax has been cut for the oil and gas industry putting more money in people's pockets

The oil industry in the East and Cambridgeshire's councils are the region's main beneficiaries from the coalition's last budget.

The budget's headlines were changes to personal tax allowances and the freeze in fuel duty, which should mean more money in our pockets, but there was an assortment of measures affecting the East.

The energy industry here gave a guarded welcome to moves by the Chancellor to cut tax for the oil and gas industry. It's been reeling since the price of oil slumped.

The halving of the oil price since last summer has affected this region.

Scores of companies based in Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft and elsewhere provide products and services to oil companies further north. Contracts have been deferred, causing uncertainty.

Now the chancellor has come up with more than a billion pounds worth of support.

Simon Gray, of the East of England Energy Group, thought the change would help: "It's a good start. It's probably not enough. I think compared to elsewhere in the world we have the highest area to tax of oil and gas of any nation.

"Therefore it can make it more attractive for multi-national companies to go elsewhere in the world."

Business Rate Change

The Chancellor also gave councils in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough an unexpected boost. In future they are allowed to keep any growth in their business rates, a change that could be worth around £10m.

Image caption Simon Gray, of the East of England Energy Group, thought the budget would help

Cambridge's Liberal Democrat MP, Julian Huppert, was delighted at the news: "We will now be able to keep the growth in business rates - allowing us to invest in affordable housing, in transport, in skills, in broadband - really good news for our economy."

Under the scheme, any extra rates - generated by new or expanding businesses - will be kept by Cambridgeshire's councils.

The money will be split - with 80% kept by the districts, 18% going to the county council - and 2% going to the fire authority.

But, although this sounds like good news, one council - East Cambridgeshire - has decided not to take part. They say the scheme just doesn't deliver enough for their taxpayers.

Broadband improvements

George Osborne also sought to help broadband customers, saying the government would test the latest satellite technology to reach the remotest communities.

Stephen Britt, from the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said: "He indicated that universal access will increase from 2 Meg to 5 Meg - which is a start but we have still got a long time before people in Suffolk and the East of England benefit from faster rural broadband."

Image caption Organisations will be able to keep any growth in their business rates

There was also more money for flood defences. Work on the second phase of the Great Yarmouth flood alleviation scheme has been brought forward - as has work on Canvey island - both happen to be marginal seats.

Money was also found to assess the case for a new bridge over Ipswich Docks and to see whether there should be a third river crossing in Lowestoft although Labour claimed that was just a waste of money.

"I think people are fed up with them frittering away money on feasibility studies. People know where the third crossing should be in Lowestoft. They want people to get on with it," said Bob Blizzard, the former Labour MP who is fighting the Waveney seat again this time.

Racing industry

Newmarket MP, Matt Hancock, was thrilled his calls had been answered with the news of the scrapping of the HorseRace Betting Levy. He said that the new HorseRace Betting Right is the biggest step forward for racing in a generation and should secure the industry.

And there was just over £3m for our two air ambulances which, we were told, will mean a new state-of-the-art helicopter by January.

The Leader of the Green Party, Natalie Bennett expressed concern about the absence of green policies in the budget and particularly criticised the tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

UKIP largely welcomed the budget but said the Chancellor had to look for more ways of saving money.

With only weeks to go until the election, many of the measures for the east will outlive the government that announced them.