Budget savings bonanza for rich

High earners will crack open the champagne over the controversial slashing of the 50p tax rate to 45p for those earning £150k or more - a widely anticipated move.

However there is a rise in the personal tax allowance to £9,205 from 1 April 2013. That's a £1,100 rise which may see up to 2m Britons taken right out of the tax system. Where else has Osborne been tinkering?

First time buyers left out

First, there's NO hike in the ISA limits. That is, £11,280 in an investment ISA or up to £5,640 in a cash ISA. That's not such good news for people saving to get on the housing ladder.

"One group of people that would be helped by an increase in the cash ISA limit is first-time buyers," says Nationwide, "many of whom are struggling to find the deposit necessary to secure a mortgage. An increase in the cash ISA limit to £11,280 would have helped first-time buyers save the required deposit faster."

Gilt move

Fixed income investors should note two areas of interest - what the government's intentions are regarding the Royal Mail Pension Plan's assets, and the issuance of UK Gilts over the next fiscal year.

"The government will add the £38bn of Royal Mail pension liabilities to the general government pension pot, while taking the £28bn of assets onto its balance sheet," says Ian Winship, manager of the BlackRock Absolute Return Bond Fund.

This will reduce the deficit this year as the assets are treated as a one-off capital grant, but will be a further burden for taxpayers over time, he says. "The assets consist of both UK Gilts and other assets - the other assets will be sold over the next two years, giving the government a cash boost, but the Gilts will be cancelled, thereby reducing outstanding debt."

Trusts reform

Another area Osborne has been fiddling with is changes to Discretionary Trusts. One of the most hideously complex corners of IHT, the 10-year charge and exit charge calculations for IHT in discretionary trusts is to be simplified - details to come.

"This could be good news for trustees and beneficiaries of these trusts, of which there are thousands in the UK," says Julie Hutchison, head of international technical insight at Standard Life. "HMRC statistics show that 101,000 of these types of trust filed tax returns in 2009/10."

For Britain's community of millionaires - 'millionaire' doesn't quite carry the ring it used due to rising house prices in some parts of the UK - Osborne's measures are unlikely to appease wealth being moved offshore. Skandia claims a third (34%) have seen their finances shrink over the past 12 months (spare a tear?).

"This has led," claims Graham Bentley, Skandia UK's head of investment strategy, "to a drop in the number that say they have confidence in the government's economic policies, falling to less than half (49%) compared to over half (55%) when the first survey was run in June 2011."

Delighting some

Finally, Venture Capital Trusts. The Association of Investment Companies (AIC) says it welcomes the removal of the £1million limit on investment by a VCT in a single company, which comes into effect from April 2012, and the proposed rules to increase the range of companies eligible for VCT investment.

"We're delighted," said Ian Sayers, Director General of the AIC, "that the Chancellor's removal of the £1million limit on VCT investment in a single company will ensure more efficient support to smaller businesses in the UK. Due to the withdrawal of banks from small business lending, there is an increase in the range of companies which are unable to secure development capital from traditional sources."

You can download the HM Treasury's red book (PDF) here

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