Helen Nugent

Autumn Statement, Black Friday and consumer credit

So, no more Spring Budgets. In one of the most surprising announcements in yesterday’s speech, the Chancellor revealed the abolition of the traditional March Budget and Autumn Statement. From 2017, there will be a single Budget in Autumn, along with a ‘Spring Statement’ with no major policy announcements from 2018.

In truth, the final Autumn Statement held few headline-grabbing stories. Many had been trailed in advance, including a ban on letting agent fees and a £1 billion boost for broadband connections and speed. Previous announcements also featured heavily, including an increase to the National Living Wage to £7.50 an hour and a crackdown on fraudulent whiplash claims.

Other key points were a freeze on fuel duty for the seventh year running, an increase in personal tax allowances, and a rise in the higher-rate income tax threshold from £43,001 to £45,000 in April and to £50,000 by 2020. There will also be a hike in free childcare for working families with three and four-year-olds from next September.

Meanwhile, the insurance industry was dismayed to learn of a rise in Insurance Premium Tax (IHT). The Telegraph reports that ‘insurers have hit out at plans to increase insurance premium tax for the third time in 18 months, a move that is expected to raise more than £4 billion for the Treasury’. The tax will increase from 10 per cent to 12 per cent next Summer and is expected to make insurance policies more expensive.

According to The Times, Philip Hammond also announced a ‘new £23 billion national productivity investment fund to address lack of investment in research and development and spur innovation in housing, rail and road and digital technology’.

And the Daily Mail reports that the future of the pensions triple lock is in doubt after the Chancellor ‘signalled a review of the costs of the guarantee’. The

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