23 November 2016
Autumn statement: top four things to know
By Darius McDermott, Managing Director
So the autumn statement and the spring budget are henceforth abolished, to be replaced by a spring statement and an autumn budget. Once you've got that straight, we've summarised the remaining key news points you need to know about below.
You can read the full statement on the government's website.
1. The economy – investment in productivity
The big new spending initiative is a 'National Productivity Investment Fund'. The government reckons increasing the UK's productivity is the best way to see its economy through Brexit and the overarching theme is infrastructure.
Housing is to be supported by an injection of investment to high priority regions, where a lack of infrastructure is preventing new housing development. Transport is also in focus, with more money flagged for roads and railways. Meanwhile, 'digital infrastructure'—meaning better and faster internet and mobile connectivity—will support innovation in technology. Finally, extra research funding for science aims to make sure the industry not only continues to invent and innovate, but keeps its development and production onshore.
2. Your pension – more of the same
Nothing particularly exciting in pensions news this time round (thankfully, as we've had more than enough to keep us on our toes in this world over the past few years). There will be a crackdown on pension scams, which is always welcome.
The 'triple lock' on state pension increases will remain in place. (If you're not sure what that is, you can read about it on the website of our sister company, Chelsea Financial Services.) And while the majority of salary sacrifice tax benefits will be removed, pension contributions will continue to be eligible.
If you're at the higher net worth end of the scale, you may be affected by a reduced limit on the amount you can contribute to your pension while also drawing money out of your pension (known as the MPAA, or money purchase annual allowance, limit). However, given most people are unable to keep contributing to their pension while also using its income, we expect the impact on most of our clients to be minimal.
3. Your other investments – a new savings bond won't get you far
With a nod to continued low interest rates and the uphill battle for savers, the Chancellor announced a new savings bond, with a planned gross rate of 2.2%. It will be a three-year bond, open to those aged 16 years and over, but with a maximum limit of £3,000 and a starting sum of £100. It will be available for purchase for 12 months only.
So while we welcome any encouragement to start saving—and this could be a particular incentive for young people to put aside that extra cash—we think a key take-out from today's autumn statement is that investing must continue to be a vital part of securing your financial future.
4. Your household spending – petrol, power, agent fees & insurance
The oil price has risen a lot since January and the pound has fallen. This would inevitably cause petrol prices to rise, so the fuel duty tax rate will remain frozen. (It's been frozen for the past six years, so this isn't necessarily 'news', but it's good to know there are no changes.)
More broadly on the energy front, the Chancellor said the government would be keeping an eye on retail energy prices (i.e. your home electricity and gas bills), as it worked to simultaneously address carbon emissions and clean energy supply.
Any renters who've ever dealt with a letting agent will be pleased to hear the government intends to ban letting agent fees to tenants (although on the flipside it may be landlords who must now pick up the tab).
And there will be new rules on your various insurance policies automatically renewing, which could be good news if it encourages more competition among insurers looking to keep customers.
Where to next?
- 10 steps to start investing
- Good income hunting
- How to find the big winners in an average-growth world
Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. Darius' views are his own and do not constitute financial advice.
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