Autumn Statement 2013: winners and losers
The chancellor’s 2013 Autumn Statement was full of rhetoric and bluster designed to create a feel-good, positive impression of how the government has been performing.
But who are the real winners and losers from the statement? Here’s our full run down of who has benefited the most and who has lost out...
Drivers: the 2p a litre fuel duty rise planned for next year has been scrapped. The government says it has saved motorists 20p a litre by scrapping all Labour’s planned fuel duty increases since 2010.
Low-earners: By announcing a raise in the income tax personal allowance to £10,000, thousands of lower-earners will no longer pay any income tax at all.
Lower-earning married couples: from April 2015, the new married tax allowance will allow married couples and civil partners to transfer £1,000 of their unused allowance to the higher earner – but only if neither of you are higher-rate taxpayers and one of you earns less than the personal allowance (£10,000 from April 2014).
Pensioners: a bit of a stretch, but those claiming the state pension will see an increase in the amount they receive – it’s going up by £2.95 a week from April 2014.
Small business: a raft of good news for small business owners. Firstly, the government is to give small companies that own premises worth up to £50,000 a £1,000 discount on their business rates. They will also be allowed to pay their rates in 12 monthly installments, which will aid cash flow. Moreover, Osborne confirmed that rises in business rates will be limited to 2%, instead of the 3.2% they were due to go up by.
First-time buyers: stubbornly high house prices in many regions aside, the government said that more lenders (namely, Virgin and Aldermore) are joining the Help To Buy first-time buyer scheme – in theory, increasing the number of mortgages available.
Commuters: Plans to increase train fares by 1 percentage point above inflation in January have been scrapped – instead, they will rise in line with inflation, saving season ticket holders an average of £25. Don’t spend it all at once.
Young people: people in their 20s will probably have to work until they are at least 70, thanks to the planned raising of the state retirement age; and those in their thirties will probably have to wait until they are 69.
Higher earners: while the rise in the income tax personal allowance to £10,000 has lifted many lower earners out of tax, the higher-rate threshold hasn’t been raised in line. This means the amount of income you need to earn before the 40% higher tax rate kicks falls to £41,865 from April 2014.
Savers: the government failed to introduce several changes that would have pleased savers. It did not raise the Cash Isa contribution limit from £5,760 to £11,520, to put it in line with the annual stocks and shares Isa limit. It also failed to allow the inclusion of peer-to-peer lending products within an Isa.
Children born after 1 September 2002 or before 2 January 2011: these kids were eligible for the previous government's Child Trust Fund (CTF). But that has been discontinued, replaced by the Junior Isa (Jisa). As you cannot transfer a CTF to a Jisa, rates on CTFs have dwindled because providers cannot attract new money into the products. The government could have allowed CTF-holders to switch to a Jisa, but chose not to, penalising thousands of children born at the wrong time.
Those living abroad that own a UK home: those who are not resident in the UK but own a home here will now pay capital gains tax when they sell up.
Those on benefits: The chancellor’s cap on welfare has been brought in a year early. From April 2014, increases in a wide range of benefits and tax credits will be capped at the maximum annual rate of 1% until 2016. While Jobseeker’s Allowance (and other benefits that are modified depending on economic circumstances) will also be excluded from the cap, young jobseekers of 18-21 will now not be able to sign on unless they can demonstrate Maths and English skills.
Available from 1 November 2011, the Junior ISA will replace child trust funds (CFTs), which have been phased out. Junior ISAs will have a £3,000 limit and will be offered by high street banks, building societies and other providers that currently offer ISAs to adults. You can invest in either stocks and shares or cash. But, unlike CTFs, there will be no government contributions into each child’s savings pot. Money invested in Junior ISAs will be “locked in” until the child is 18, and the ISA will default to an adult one.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).
Capital gains tax
If you buy an asset – shares, a second home, arts and antiques – and then sell it at a later date and make a profit, that profit could be subject to CGT. You don’t pay CGT on selling your main home (which is why MPs “flipped” theirs so regularly) or any securities sheltered in an ISA. Individuals get an annual CGT allowance (£10,600 in 2010/2011) but if you have substantial assets it’s worth paying an accountant to sort it for you.
Invidivual Savings Accounts were introduced on 6 April 1999 to replace personal equity plans (PEPs) and tax-exempt special savings accounts (TESSAs) with one plan that covered both stockmarket and savings products, the returns from which are tax-exempt. The ISA is not in itself an investment product. Rather, it’s a tax-free “wrapper” in which you place investments and savings up to a specified annual allowance where the returns (capital growth, dividends, interest) are tax-exempt (you don’t have to declare ISAs and their contents on your tax return). However, any dividends are taxed within the investment, and that can’t be reclaimed.