It had promised few ripples, so it was no surprise that Chancellor Philip Hammond steered clear of making waves yesterday as he announced his last spring Budget.

Better than expected economic forecasts provided the Chancellor with a bit of wiggle room as he plunged in to position Britain as a good place to do business.

He reiterated the lowering of the Corporation Tax rate to 17% by 2020, introduced the desire to simplify the administration on the successful R&D tax credit regime, and revealed that the government is set to publish a formal discussion paper on how to improve the transfer of North Sea oil assets to businesses wanting to reinvigorate older assets that the current owners are rejecting.

With the North Sea continuing to be a major employer in Scotland, any moves to make it easier for new entrants would be good news.

There was also good news for small businesses after it was announced that the Making Tax Digital programme will be delayed by a year for those operating below the VAT threshold – many of whom will be sole traders. This turn of tide, which is set to cost the Treasury £280m, is to give such businesses more time to prepare for the changes. Undoubtedly, some would have preferred longer but the plans for the new system are inevitable in an increasingly digital age.

Straying into choppier waters, the Chancellor confirmed that a rise in National Insurance contributions for the self-employed is in the pipeline. Plans to abolish Class 2 contributions are to go ahead next year, but Class 4 contributions will now rise by 1% to 10% next year and a further 1% in 2019.

Mr Hammond said the Government is keen to support entrepreneurs and innovators, but pointed out that employees earning £32,000 paid three times more NI contributions than someone who is self-employed on the same salary. The new levy will raise more than £2bn in extra tax revenue in the current Parliament but arguably cuts across the election manifesto promising no increases in NI contributions.

Company shareholder directors who pay themselves via company dividends are also being targeted. The tax-free dividend allowance will be reduced from £5,000 to £2,000 next year, raising over £2.6bn over the Parliament.

Determined to demonstrate his hidden depths, the Chancellor said the Budget was about creating a stronger, fairer and global economy. There was increased funding for social care in England, investment designed to boost productivity and a new focus on technical skills to help tackle the skills gap and be more inclusive. In England, this will mean the introduction of new T-Level qualifications which are designed to deliver clear, focused routes into work and provide parity with academic qualifications.

The Treasury signalled it is to get even tougher on tax avoidance with a clampdown worth £820m including action to stop businesses converting capital losses into trading losses, tackle abuse of foreign pension schemes and introduce VAT on roaming telecoms outside the EU. It was also announced that there will be financial penalties for professionals who enable tax avoidance that is subsequently defeated by HMRC.

There was a clear drive to boost innovation with £300m to support 1,000 extra PhDs and fellowships in STEM subjects while disruptive technology including driverless cars and robotics is to receive £270m and £16m is to be made available for a next generation 5G mobile network. The funds for the hi-tech research come from the National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), which was announced by the Chancellor last year.

There was no mention of Brexit although the prospect of a second independence referendum was referenced with Mr Hammond announcing an additional £350m for Scotland. Another steady performance from The Chancellor has bought himself more time and flexibility to navigate any storms that may arise from Brexit.

John McAuslin is a Tax Partner in accountancy and business advisory firm Johnston Carmichael’s Glasgow office