Autumn Statement 2013: The five biggest disappointments

Updated: 
George Osborne with the Budget briefcaseThere was bad news for workers under the age of 40 today, as Chancellor George Osborne announced plans in his Autumn Statement to bring forward the planned increase in the retirement age.

But they were not the only ones to feel let down by the Chancellor's mini Budget.


Here are our top five Autumn Statement disappointments.

1. Britons to work for longer
Osborne confirmed that the State pension age will rise to 68 by the mid-2030s and to 69 in the late 2040s.

This means it will increase a lot more quickly than expected; previously the retirement age was only forecast to hit 68 by 2046.

Unions claim that it is further evidence of the government expecting Britons to work "until they drop".

But deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the plans. "I'm not pretending it's an easy concept to accept but it's part of what happens as societies become more affluent and as people become healthier and live much, much longer," he said.

"We need to make sure that the rules of retirement, which were first set decades ago, keep up with those demographic changes."

The delayed retirement dates should help save around £400 billion from the national bill for pensions over the next 50 years.

2. No help for Child Trust Fund savers
There was also disappointment for parents of the more than 6 million children with Child Trust Funds (CTFs), which are said to be in "terminal decline" since the introduction of Junior Isas some two years ago.

The interest rates and returns on CTFs have been falling sharply since the scheme was effectively ditched by the government.

But those with CTFs are stuck with them unless the government allows transfers into Junior ISAs, and Osborne said nothing about making this possible today.

Danny Cox, head of financial planning at adviser Hargreaves Lansdown, said: "Without a change in the rules to allow transfers from CTFs to Junior ISA, over 6 million children with CTFs risk being disadvantaged."

3. More welfare cuts
This time last year, the Chancellor announced that a series of working-age benefits and tax credits would rise by only 1% a year for three years.

This year, he went further still, promising to reduce government expenditure by capping overall welfare spending.

He blamed the continuing cuts on welfare spending being "out of control when we came to office" and said last year's reductions had saved £19 billion.

4. Air tax increased
Osborne also ignored pleas from the travel industry to freeze or cut the tax on medium and long-haul flights, which will now get more expensive from April 1, 2014.

Similar taxes in several other countries, including Ireland, have been abolished after it became clear that they were harming the economy.

And last week, some 250 travel industry chief executives, including British Airways head Keith Williams and Heathrow Airport boss, Colin Matthews, wrote to the government accusing it of ignoring evidence that Air Passenger Duty is delaying the economic recovery.

Unfortunately for air travellers, however, their letter did not have the effect they wanted, and aviation tax, which is already the highest in the world, will continue to go up.

5. No petrol duty cuts
The Chancellor confirmed plans to cancel an expected petrol tax rise of 2p a litre in 2014 and said that this will save an average motorist about £11 every time he or she fuels up.

However, Lucy Burnford, founder of driver weskit Motoriety, argues that this does not go far enough to help cash-strapped motorists.

"Cancelling planned fuel duty rises looks like a sweetener in the face of persistently high prices at the pumps - but really it's a red herring," she said. "A decrease in fuel duty would be a real win for motorists."