Today’s Autumn Statement saw the Chancellor, George Osborne, announce a spending review aimed at delivering economic and national security by building on the foundations of a strong economy.
Though there were few headline changes announced since July’s emergency Summer Budget, the Chancellor did set out a number of measures that will impact savers and small businesses in the years ahead.
In the current political climate, it came as no surprise that economic security topped the bill, with George Osborne aiming for Britain to become one of the most prosperous countries in the world. This security will be underpinned by a £27bn improvement in the UK’s public finances, an overall budget surplus in 2019/20 and over 1m new jobs over the next five years. As he is fond of telling us, the Chancellor wants to “fix the roof while the sun is shining.”
The main announcement for investors was targeted at those looking to purchase buy-to-let or additional homes. From April 2016, Stamp Duty on these purchases will be set 3% higher than for those buying their only property. While many buy these properties for long-term growth, those seeking an immediate rental income may be put off by the additional upfront costs.
Additionally, the Chancellor delivered a range of announcements that may help put more money in the pockets of Britons:
- Tax credits will remain unchanged
- From 2017, parents of 3 and 4-year-olds will get 30 hours free childcare if they work more than 16 hours a week and earn less than £100,000
- Initiatives to lower the cost of energy bills and car insurance
- Londoners will get a new Help to Buy scheme, where those with a 5% deposit can apply for an interest free loan of up to 40% of the value of a newly built home
- The State Pension will rise to £119.30 a week from April, although the State Pension Age will also rise
However, auto enrolment, which has now seen over 5 million employees get a workplace pension, will see six-month delays to increases in contributions. The minimum employer contribution rates will now rise in line with the tax year, to 2% in April 2018 and 3% in April 2019.
While the Chancellor reiterated his plan to launch digital tax accounts for everyone in the country by 2020, something we have long supported, he also announced a reduction in the time allowed to pay Capital Gains Tax to just 30 days that will work in conjunction with the new digital service.
For small businesses, a new Apprenticeship Levy will be set at 0.5% of the wage bill, to help fund an extra 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. However, firms with wage bills of less than £3m will be exempt from the levy, which will come into force from April 2017.
Commenting on today’s Autumn Statement, David Harrison, Managing Partner at True Potential said:
“There were no great announcements for savers and investors today, but given the scale of pension and ISA changes in recent years, expectations were low. The increase in the State Pension will be popular but it does not address the real problem, which is the Savings Gap. People are not saving enough independently for their own retirement and we cannot rely on future State Pension increases to plug the gap.
“The delayed auto enrolment minimum contribution rate may help with business administration, but it is a delay that the country can’t afford given the size of the savings crisis.
“I would have liked the Chancellor to increase the ISA limit further and remove the annual and lifetime pension allowances, which penalise people who want to do the right thing and save for their own retirement.”
For more information on the Autumn Statement 2015, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/autumn-statement-and-spending-review-2015
This article is based on True Potential’s interpretation of the Autumn Statement 2015, published on 25 November 2015. It is a broad summary and cannot cover every nuance, you should not take or refrain from taking any action based solely on this article.