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Breaking Down the Autumn Statement: Your Simple Guide to Tax Cuts, Benefit Increases, and Economic Shifts

In the Autumn Statement, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt shared decisions about the country’s finances, and here’s how it affects your money.

 

1. Tax Cut Alert, but Keep the Bigger Picture in Mind

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced a reduction in National Insurance (NI) rates. NI, similar to income tax, takes a percentage of your wages. The cut, from 12% to 10% starting January 6, is good news, potentially saving someone on a £35,000 salary around £450. However, it’s crucial to note that NI and income tax bands are frozen until 2028. This means any pay increase might push you into a higher tax bracket or increase the proportion of your income taxed.

 

2. Prices May Rise, but Not as Fast

While prices have been rising sharply, the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts a slowdown in the inflation rate, dropping to 2.8% by the end of next year. This forecast suggests that the cost of living will increase, but at a slower pace compared to recent years. However, it’s essential to remember that this is a projection and not a guaranteed outcome.

 

3. Minimum Wages Getting a Boost

Come April, minimum wages are set to increase. For example, the National Living Wage for those over 23 rises from £10.42 to £11.44 an hour. This is positive news for workers, but it’s important to note that employers will be responsible for covering these increased wage costs.

 

4. Benefits Increase Coming in April

In April, a 6.7% rise in benefits is confirmed. This includes various benefits received by millions, offering financial relief to those who rely on them. Families with children, for instance, may see an increase of around £900 annually, according to estimates from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

 

5. Help with Rent

To aid those struggling with rising rental costs, the Chancellor has increased support through the benefits system. The Local Housing Allowance rates, frozen since 2020, will now be 30% of local market rents, providing an average of £800 in support to 1.6 million households next year.

 

6. Changes in Welfare Rules

In an effort to encourage employment, individuals out of work for more than 18 months will be required to undertake work experience placements. Refusing work or not engaging with job center staff may result in a temporary loss of benefits. Additionally, there will be an overhaul of rules for those receiving benefits due to health conditions preventing them from working.

 

7. State Pensions Going Up

Pensioners can expect an 8.5% increase in state pensions next April, following the triple-lock system. For instance, the full, new flat-rate state pension will be £221.20 a week.

 

8. Mixed Bag for Smokers and Drinkers

While hand-rolling tobacco duty will increase by an additional 10%, duty on beer, cider, wine, and spirits will remain frozen until August, providing some relief for drinkers.

 

9. Uncertain Future for Cost-of-Living Payments

There is no clear indication of future cost-of-living payments beyond the current plans for winter and spring. Millions are expected to benefit from the outlined changes, including tax cuts, increased benefits, pension rises, and higher minimum wages.

 

10. Economic Outlook and Criticisms

Despite the Chancellor’s efforts to stimulate the economy, critics argue that, after 13 years, Britons are worse off. The Office for Budget Responsibility downgraded growth forecasts, signaling potential economic challenges despite the unexpected fiscal headroom. The debate continues over the effectiveness of these measures in the larger economic context.

 

11. ISA Evolution: Key Changes for 2024

From April 2024, ISA rules are set for a revamp:

  • Contribute to multiple ISAs of the same type in a tax year.
  • Partial transfers allowed at any time, simplifying fund management.
  • Cash ISA age limit raised to 18; consider opening before the change if you’re 16 or 17.
  • Annual savings limits frozen, maintaining £20,000 for ISAs.
  • Introducing ‘fractional shares’ in stocks & shares ISAs for broader investment options.
  • ‘Help to Save’ scheme faces reform for sustainability, incentivization, and optimal taxpayer value.

 

Founded in 2017, Fintuity has fast become one of the only digital Independent Financial Advisers (IFA) in the United Kingdom.  Fintuity offers a wide range of financial advisory services including pensions, protection, investments and mortgage advice. The key difference is that as an exclusively digital service, we can offer significant savings and a service that is direct to you and on demand.

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