5 things we don't want from the Budget 2013



A petrol pumpWhen George Osborne makes his Budget 2013 speech tomorrow, there are a few things that many of us are hoping he will leave out.

Drivers, for example, are willing him not to announce another fuel duty hike, while smokers are dreading the price of a packet of cigarettes rising again. We investigate how likely our biggest fears are to come true.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%


Pension allowance cuts
Pension savers have been hit hard by recent Budgets, with the annual pension allowance slashed from £255,000 to £40,000 and the lifetime pension allowance cut from £1.5m to £1.25m.

There is speculation that this year's Budget could further reduce both the annual allowance - to £30,000 - and cap the tax-free lump sum that people can choose to receive when they take out their pension.

However, Raj Mody, head of pensions at accountant PwC, believes the government might hold back due to fears of further dissuading people from saving for retirement.

"If we can't forecast the rules even five years ahead, what is the incentive to save?" he said.

Download a free brochure on Top 10 Retirement Tips here.

Likelihood: 5/10

Fuel duty hike
Drivers already hit hard by petrol price hikes are dreading the planned fuel duty rise later this year. The worst possible news for them would therefore be a further hike.

However, experts are predicting that another fuel duty increase will not take place until petrol prices start to edge back down, and the Chancellor is in fact considered likely to scrap the autumn duty rise for this reason.

Likelihood: 2/10

Alcohol duty increase

Taxes on alcohol and cigarettes, otherwise known as "sin taxes", are currently subject to automatic annual increases. They will therefore rise by at least 2% over inflation until next year at the earliest.

A repeat of last year's 2% above inflation hike in the duty on booze is therefore a certainty. The only question is whether it will increase by more than that.

Likelihood: 10/10

Higher cigarette duty

Last year, duty on tobacco products rose by 5% above inflation, adding 37p to the price of a packet of cigarettes.

That was over and above the automatic "sin tax" increase of inflation plus 2%. And the bad news for smokers is that tax experts expect this year's rise to be above the minimum too.

Likelihood: 10/10

Income tax rise

For many people, higher income tax is one of the most feared outcomes of the Budget each year.

This year, the Government has already announced that the top rate of income tax for those earning £150,000 or more will come down this year from 50% to 45%.

There is also speculation that Osborne may give more details of plans to increase the personal allowance - or amount you can earn tax-free - to £10,000.

The downside, however, is that more people may be dragged into the 40% tax band due to a reduction in the amount you have to earn to pay that rate of tax.

Likelihood: 5/10

Take a look at last year's winners and losers in the gallery below.


11 PHOTOS
Budget winners and losers
See Gallery
5 things we don't want from the Budget 2013

As of April 2013, the 50p rate will be reduced to 45p following a study which Osborne claims revealed it would make little or no difference to the amount of tax raised but would significantly reduce the damage to the economy. 

The much-debated cut to child benefit was confirmed, albeit through a less direct hit than was outlined in the pre-Budget report. The benefit will be removed gradually for those earning more than £50,000 – reducing by 1% for every £100 earned over the threshold, cutting off completely at the £60,00 mark. The Chancellor had planned to axe it where one parent earned over £43,000.

Financial service providers always refer to 'typical APR' in advertising to attract customers with favourable rates of interest.

Yet the typical APR on loans and credit cards is only available for those applicants who have a squeaky clean credit record, everyone else could end up with a much higher rate. For example, under EU rules, credit card providers only have to provide the typical APR advertised to 51% of applicants.

So always consider this when applying for accounts and products, and if approved – look out the actual APR that you will be charged.

A potential winner - Osborne particularly name-checked the South East in his Budget which many assume is a veiled reference to a Heathrow expansion.

The cost of a room in a care home in many parts of the country is now over £30,000 a year, according to figures from Prestige Nursing and Care. So even if the prime minister announces a cap on care costs - last year the economist Andrew Dilnot called for a new system of funding which would mean that no one would pay more than £35,000 for lifetime care - families will still face huge accommodation costs. Ways to cut this cost include opting for home care rather than a care home. Jonathan Bruce, managing director of Prestige Nursing and Care, said: "For older people who may need care in the shorter term, home care is an option which allows people to maintain their independence for longer while living in their own home and should be included in the cap." However, the only other answer is to save more while you can.

M 25-29, 32, 34-35, 38, 43, 45-46

A new stamp duty rate of 7% (up from 5%) will be introduced on properties worth over £2 million - widely considered a sop to the Lib Dems calling for a mansion tax. 

As was widely predicted, Osborne froze the fuel duty hike due in September 2013. He announced that his repeated scrapping of this duty has saved the average Ford Focus owner £7 on every tank of petrol.

Alcohol is on safe ground - for the moment. Duty will remain the same but do expect an announcement on alcohol pricing.

Duty will rise on all tobacco products by 5% above inflation, which will add 37p to a packet of cigarettes.

The Chancellor naming Wallace and Gromit caused quite a commotion on the Tory backbench and was possibly the most lively moment in the Chancellor's speech. The Chancellor is intent on keeping UK TV and film productions in Britain and will ramp up support to stop the exodus of British production companies abroad.

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