Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Autumn Statement 2016

In the aftermath of Brexit, we all knew that this year's Autumn Statement would be seminal. Only 6 months since the spring budget and we have a new PM, a new Chancellor and a new crisis to deal with. The Statement was very interesting because it was the first time in a long time that the PM and the Chancellor haven't appeared to be on the same page. May has been speaking about a fairer Britain for all, but Hammond is singing from his own hymn sheet with sensible financial planning to see us through Brexit. The latter will benefit everyone in the long term, but it doesn't make for a razzle dazzle Statement.

National Living Wage: A whopping 30p extra per hour if you're over 25. 21-24 year olds have only been awarded an extra 10p, but it budges them over the £7 mark to £7.05 
Income Tax: The tax-free threshold rises by £500 to £11,500; this is ahead of what the last budget promised us. The highest tax band will now apply at £45,000 instead of £43,000, which is a nice help to the squeezed middle. 
Renters: Sayonara renters' fees! Excellent news for students because they are a group who tend to move around a lot. 
Student Loans: They're still looking to sell the pre-2012 loan book. No sympathy from the £9,000 fee students. 
ISA: An increase on the ISA limit, from £15,240 to £20,000. It's good to have somewhere to put that extra 10p per hour. 
Future Transport Technology: Hammond has thrown the reddies at driverless cars, green buses, and charging-points for electric vehicles. 
Infrastructure: The promise for major investment in Britain's infrastructure continues. Roads, road safety, public transport, and an Oxford to Cambridge expressway will all be receiving attention. 
Devolution Revolution: Although Hammond didn't sing the words of Osbourne's number one hit of the Autumn Statement 2015, he was humming along as he promised £800m, £400m, and £250m to Scotland, Wales and NI respectively. 
Corporation Tax: Unsurprisingly, the plans to cut it to 17% are still going ahead. Very much needed to retain big businesses. Ireland weeps. 
Fuel Duty: Fuel duty has been frozen for so long I wonder if it will ever be raised. It's good news for motorists anyway. I doubt it will make a tap of difference to public transport fares. Taking a holistic view, it benefits us all because the price of transporting goods is factored into their price. 
Insurance Premium Tax: Motorists, make sure to retain all those pennies you save on petrol because you're going to need them to pay your insurance. It goes up by 2%. Hammond stated with a straight face that it's up to the companies whether they'll pass it on to customers. 
The Arts and Heritage: Tax relief for museums and galleries continues for another 5 years. Financial support for cultural and heritage projects. This includes £7.6m to repair Wentworth Woodhouse in South Yorkshire. During hard economic times it's easy to forget about these kinds of things, but once they're gone they're gone. 
Soft Drinks: Forthcoming draft legislation on the sugary drinks tax. 
Musical Chairs: The Autumn Statement is to be abolished and replaced with an Autumn Budget; the Spring Budget is to be abolished and replaced with a Spring Statement.