A spoonful of sugar: All Christians need to know about Budget 2016

George Osborne has delivered his eighth budget amid gloomy economic forecasts and warnings he will miss his self-imposed targets by 2020.

The Chancellor made a number of changes to the tax system as well a range of fiddly new measures that gave the impression he was scraping the barrel. This was effectively his fourth budget in 12 months so we can forgive him for a lack of major developments.

But there are some notable changes nonetheless. Here are the main points you need to know:

Osborne poses with his red budget box outside number 11 Downing Street before making his way to the House of CommonsReuters

Economic forecasts worse than expected

The growth estimates have been revised down which means there is less money for the Chancellor to play with.

Osborne was keen to stress the UK is still predicted to grow faster than any other major Western economy in an attempt to stave off critics of his cuts to public spending.

Overall this global slow down means there is less money in the government's coffers and so less money to spend on tax cuts or public spending increases. The subsequent cuts to take account of this are likely to fall on unprotected government departments such as the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Tax thresholds changed

All this bad news did not prevent Osborne from announcing changes to thresholds at which income tax is deducted to allow people to "keep more of the money they earn".

The tax-free personal allowance, which is the amount people earn before income tax is deducted, will increase from £11,000 in April 2016 to £11,500 in April 2017.

In addition the point at which the 40 per cent rate kicks in will rise from £42,385 to £45,000 in April 2017.

Osborne portrayed this as "social justice delivered by Conservative means" but a number of Christian charities were unconvinced.

Lifetime ISA to 'help those on the lowest incomes save'

George Osborne delivers his budget speech to a packed House of CommonsReuters

Under a new scheme for under-40s the government will top up savings by 25 per cent. So for every £4, the government will top up £1 up to a maximum of £1,000 each year.

This can be used either to save for retirement or to buy a first home and is an attempt to encourage young people to save.

The limit you can put into an ISA, which is a savings account with tax-free interest, will also be increased from £15,240 to £20,000.

Fund to tackle homelessness

The Chancellor announced a package worth £115 million to help tackle homelessness.

This was welcomed by a number of charities although Stephen Timms MP, Labour's faith envoy, told Christian Today: "We have gone backwards very significantly on rough sleeping under this government so the acknowledgement we need to do something about it is rather late but it is welcome."

Sugar tax

Finally the new sugar tax on soft drinks is worth noting. The levy will raise £520 million which will be spent on doubling funding for sport in primary schools.

However this is not as sweet a deal as it sounds. Despite the celebrations from Jamie Oliver and the endorsement of Jeremy Corbyn, in reality this is likely to be a tax on the poor. It is unrealistic to think it will reduce consumption and is much more likely to mean the poor spend more of their already limited income on cans of coke. 

This is a nice little introduction from the Chancellor to appease campaigners and will likely detract the front pages away from all the bad news that the economy is not as strong as we thought. 

For the snap reaction of Chrisian MPs from different parties click here.

And for what Christian charities made of the Chancellor's claim of "social justice delivered by Conservative means", click here.