On 3rd November, the Chancellor, George Osborne, delivered his Autumn Statement. It was his last big chance before the general election in May next year to outline plans that affect the lives of millions of Britons.
Earlier in the year, The Budget delivered good news for savers and for pensioners. As The Budget’s smaller sister, what did the Autumn Statement deliver, and what does it mean for us as individuals? We’ve taken a quick look:
Good news for…
The Chancellor announced an overhaul to the stamp duty system which will cut stamp duty for 98% of people who pay it. And the really good news – changes came into effect almost immediately, at midnight on Thursday 4 December.
Rates will now only apply to the part of the property price that falls within each band, rather than the rate applying to the full value of the property.
Let’s imagine you’re buying a house for £375,000. Under the old system, you’d be paying 3% on the total value of the property – £11,250 stamp duty. Under the new system, you’d be paying:
0% for the first £125,000
2% on the portion up to £250,000
5% up to £925,000, 10% up to £1.5m and 12% on anything above that.
So for our £375,000 house, you’ll now be paying just £8,750. That’s quite a significant saving.
The move should save £4,500 on the average priced home. It will also give vendors a bit more flexibility over their pricing as moving up a stamp duty band (e.g. selling for £260,000 rather than £250,000) will have a much less significant impact on the stamp duty paid making the price bands less of a bind.
Savers and their spouses
In April the limit for tax-free Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) will be raised yet again to £15,240. Great news for anyone saving – squirrel away a bit more if you can!
At present, any savings in an ISA are no longer tax-free when somebody dies – their spouse would start having to pay tax on those savings, even if they have saved the money together. New rules which came into effect immediately mean that when someone dies, their spouse will be able to inherit their ISA and keep the tax-free status. The surviving spouse will have an additional ISA allowance which means they can invest as much into their own ISA as their spouse used to have, in addition to their normal annual ISA limit.
The threshold at which taxpayers will start to pay income tax will be increased from £10,000 to £10,600, rather than the planned £10,500 in April 2015. Not a huge difference, but definitely a step in the right direction for people on lower incomes. This extra £100 will also be applied to the 40% tax rate threshold which will increase to £42,385.
If you’ve got kids and fancy a holiday, maybe hang on for a few months. From 1 May 2015, Air Passenger Duty for children younger than 12 will be abolished. In 2016, it will be abolished for under-16s. This means that the cost of air tickets for children should go down.
If you’re staying in this country, there’s no planned rise in fuel duty either, so that’s good.
For the first time, postgrads will be able to take out an income-contingent student loan to cover the cost of their studies. Up to £10,000 will be available for masters students under the age of 30 starting courses in 2016. This may encourage more people to take advantage of postgrad courses.
Not such good news for…
British citizens with interests abroad can register for “non-domiciled” status, meaning they do not pay tax on earnings made outside the UK. The £30,000 annual charge for being non-domiciled in the UK will remain, but those here for 12 of the last 14 years will pay £60,000 a year, and that rises to £90,000 if here for more than 15 of the last 17 years.
People buying expensive houses
The stamp duty overhaul, whilst good for most people, will mean those buying homes costing more than £937,000 will be worse off under the new system. I reckon they can afford it.
People claiming some benefits
More welfare cuts were announced. For example, Universal Credit work allowances were frozen for another year and unemployment benefits will stop for migrants with no prospect of work. Whilst bad news for those affected, these measures will bring public spending down by an estimated £1billion.
- Growth is up, but there is more work to do to reduce the deficit, so there are more cuts.
- The independent Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) predicts that there will be above-inflation rises in wages in the next five years (although public sector pay restraints are likely to continue).
- Frontline NHS services in England will receive an additional £2billion of additional funding in 2015-16.
- Business rates will be cut for small businesses in local communities from April 2015.
- It will become cheaper to employ young people from April 2016 as employers will not have to pay National Insurance Contributions for all but the highest earning apprentices aged under 25.
- There will be £5.9billion sustained investment in science.
- Money will be invested in improving infrastructure: £15billion will be invested in roads, £6billion for local road improvements and £2.3billion for 1,400 flooding and coastal erosion protection schemes.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of everything covered, but gives you a flavour. On balance, we think these announcements are good news for the majority of individuals, particularly those with savings behind them.
What do you think of the latest announcements? Good news or bad news?
This article is for general use only and is not intended to address your particular requirements. It should not be relied upon in its entirety and shall not be deemed to be or constitute advice.
GreenSky Wealth Ltd is an appointed representative of Financial Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. FCA No: 516410