Chancellor George Osborne has scrapped the alcohol duty escalator in a Budget he has promised is for “makers, doers and savers”.

By freezing duty on spirits and cider, it will take off some of the pressure from legitimate retailers who have to compete with the black market in booze.

Tobacco duty will continue to rise at 2% above inflation – something that will widen the gap between legal and black market tobacco and could prove a boost for smugglers, suppliers have warned.

Other highlights included a doubling of the Annual Investment Allowance to £500,000 from April 2014 until end of 2015, and more transparent agreements with energy suppliers – particularly on contract end dates.

More than a quarter of independent shop owners currently have plans to invest in their shop.

There was confirmation that retailers will get £1,000 rates discounts for two years for businesses with rateable values of up to £50,000. However there was no mention of fundamental reform of the business rates system.