Autumn statement: the winners and losers

Autumn Statement 2016

With the prospect of Brexit hanging over the UK, chancellor Phil Hammond doesn't have a lot of money to play with. Indeed, the hit to the country is expected to reach £122 billion over the next five years.

In his autumn statement, Hammond has warned that, because of the referendum result, growth is now forecast to be 2.4% lower in 2020 than was predicted back in March. And, he says, he has given up on the idea of achieving a budget surplus by the end of the decade.

Chancellor warned of 'Brexit austerity' danger ahead of autumn statement
Instead, he expects to have to borrow £59 billion next year, £46.5 billion the year after and £21.9 billion in 2020, and has made it clear that a spending spree is not on the cards.

So who are the winners and losers from this autumn statement - which Hammond now says will be the last ever?


Low-paid workers

From April next year, the minimum wage for all working people aged 25 and over is set to go up from its current £7.20 an hour to £7.50.

Benefits claimants
It's a bit of a 'two steps back, one step forward', this one, as the chancellor's giveaway is much, much less than he's already taken away.

But in a bid to soften the effects of the switch to Universal Credit, the 'taper rate' of what families must pay in UC has been dropped from 65p to 63p in the pound.

It will be a help to the three million families in this position, saving them £700 million - although this doesn't go far to make up for the government's proposed £3 billion in cuts.

Indeed, through welfare cuts pledged by the last government, 'just about managing' (JAM) families will lose £48.38 a week by 2020, research from Policy in Practice has found.

Stop Autumn Statements becoming second Budgets, say tax experts in reform call

First time buyers
With fewer affordable homes being built than at any time in the last 15 years, the chancellor's attempting to give the sector a boost. He's announced a £1.4 billion fund that should help build 40,000 more affordable homes by 2021.

However, housing experts say that the announcement will have little value until issues such as land availability and planning regulations are tackled.

"Mr Hammond must forgive the nation for welcoming this announcement with a degree of scepticism, as like many a chancellor before him, these words often equate to little more than regurgitated rhetoric and a shortfall of 100,000 new homes a year," comments eMoov founder and CEO Russell Quirk.

Whiplash claims are believed to be costing the insurance industry so much in payouts that the average motorist is paying an extra £40 to £50 a year in premiums.

The chancellor has now announced a crack-down, putting up the minimum level at which a personal claim can be made to £5,000. He has also capped compensation for whiplash claims and stipulated that there needs to be medical evidence before a claim is settled.

"However, insurers will want to see evidence of falling claims before they implement any reductions; hence, premiums are unlikely to decline in the short term," warns ratings agency Fitch.

"As the government is consulting on its proposals until early January and then needs time to implement them, we would not expect to see a significant impact on prices before 2018."

Motorists should also be relieved that fuel duty has been frozen - although Quentin Willson, TV motoring journalist and lead campaigner for FairFuelUK thinks more should have been done.

"I'm disappointed that the chancellor didn't instantly put money into everyone's pockets by cutting duty," he says. "This is a lost opportunity from a government still afraid of supporting drivers and roads."

Unfortunately, to offset this, in June, insurance premium tax will go up from 10% to 12%, a rise that will be passed on to consumers. Yet another hike in Insurance Premium Tax seems crazy as it'll add £51 to the average household's insurance bill," comments Hannah Maundrell, editor in chief of

Higher rate taxpayers
As already promised, the basic rate income tax threshold is to be raised to £11,500 in April and £12,500 by 2020, from £11,000 now. Meanwhile, the threshold for higher rate income tax will go up to £50,000 by the end of the parliament.

"The majority of the benefit of increases in personal allowance goes to the better off - a gift to middle England," comments tax campaigner Richard Murphy.

Monetary policy shift announcement expected in Autumn Statement

The 'triple lock' on the state pension is set to remain - for the time being at least.

And the government is also planning to hold a consultation on how to tackle pension scams, including banning cold calling and giving firms more powers to block suspicious transfers.

However, it's not all good news for pensioners, with the government announcing that the annual allowance for saving into a pension for those who have started to draw down their pension savings will be cut from £10,000 to £4,000.

"This means anyone contemplating drawing on their retirement savings needs to be very clear about their future retirement saving plans," comments Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Taking even £1 in excess of your tax free lump sum, or using the uncrystallised funds pension lump sum rules in your 50s, for example, could leave savers with only very limited scope to make further pension saving in the future."


Workers with job perks
Employees who get perks such as company cars, gym membership, computers or phones through salary sacrifice schemes are set to have to pay more. Workers will no longer be able to enjoy perks tax free; the only exceptions are childcare, pensions, cycle-to-work schemes and ultra-low emission vehicles.

Lettings agencies
As predicted, Hammond has announced that he is banning lettings agencies from imposing fees of hundreds of pounds on tenants. These fees are being charged for everything from printing copying or renewing a contract to checking references and picking up keys.

With this announcement, Hammond has brought the rest of the country into line with Scotland, where agents are only allowed to collect rent and a refundable deposit.

Ten terrible tax excuses
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Ten terrible tax excuses

HMRC has revealed the 10 worst excuses people have given for missing the 31 January tax return deadline. The excuses were all used in unsuccessful appeals against penalties for late filling and payment.

Top of the list was “My pet dog ate my tax return…and all the reminders.” It's the school homework classic that never gets old.

One taxpayer argued “I was up a mountain in Wales, and couldn’t find a postbox or get an internet signal.”

It’s not thought that he was up the mountain for the entire ten months - which would indicate a particularly slow ascent.

One person tried to get away without penalties by claiming “I fell in with the wrong crowd.”

Presumably this was some sort of anti-tax, paperwork-eschewing crowd, who ought to take full blame for the fact that you couldn't be bothered to fill in your form.

One of the most fanciful excuses was “I’ve been travelling the world, trying to escape from a foreign intelligence agency.”

It’s an impressive level of excuse, although it might make quite a dull episode of Spooks.

One person tried to claim “Barack Obama is in charge of my finances.”

It would clearly explain why the tax return was late, because Obama has probably been a bit busy recently.

In an excuse which seems to have come directly from ‘My Family and Other Animals’, one taxpayer said: “I’ve been busy looking after a flock of escaped parrots and some fox cubs.”
This taxpayer didn’t bother altering the excuse they usually use at work for missing deadlines and claimed: “A work colleague borrowed my tax return to photocopy it, and didn’t give it back.”

One taxpayer argued “I live in a camper van in a supermarket car park.”

While that could make online submission a bit tricky, it doesn’t fully explain why they weren’t able to complete a paper return or leave the van to find somewhere more suited to paperwork completion. Perhaps the supermarket cafe would have sufficed.

If in doubt, point the finger at your other half.

One person used the brilliant excuse that “My girlfriend’s pregnant”: presumably they weren't to blame for that either.

One person blamed the fact they had been in Australia - where computers and the internet presumably haven’t been invented yet.
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