The Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement to Parliament yesterday. So what were the key announcements for consumers and how will it affect our personal finances?
The Autumn Statement announced measures to tackle many of the issues that we know from our insight are consistently important for consumers.
Overall, consumers are feeling more positive about the state of the economy and four in 10 expect the economy to improve in the next year.
But attitudes towards people’s own household finances continue to lag behind economic optimism and three in 10 people remain in some sort of financial distress.
Moving home costs
Changes to stamp duty will remove the big leaps that consumers face between price brackets. Under the current rules, stamp duty is not tiered, which means that buyers are hit by big jumps in their tax bill when they tip into a new band. But under the new system, the rates will only apply to the portion of the selling price that falls into the tax band, instead of the whole value of the property.
Over half of us are worried about housing costs, which reflects the fact that consumers spend, on average, more than £1 in every £5 on this area. Given this context, the Chancellor’s big announcement on stamp duty reform is likely to be welcome news for many.
We’ve also been asked by the Chancellor to work with the Council of Mortgage Lenders to improve mortgage fee transparency and make it easier to choose the best mortgage deals.
We’re delighted that the Government has asked us to work on this issue. It’s a win for the 45,000 people who signed our petition and 3,000 who emailed their MPs.
Switching and saving
The Treasury estimates that 150,000 people lose out on tax advantages each year when their partner dies. Taxes on inheriting a pension pot will be extended to annuities and spouses will now be able to inherit a partner’s ISA tax free.
This is an important change given that four in 10 people do not have the recommended level of savings, and a quarter have no savings at all.
Fuel, roads and infrastructure
Over the last year, seven in 10 have consistently been worried about the price of fuel. The Chancellor extended the fuel duty freeze and – as advocated by Which? – the Government will install electronic signs showing fuel price comparisons on the M5.
Finally, new investment in roads, trains and flood defences was also announced in the run up to the Statement. The National Infrastructure Plan confirmed that investment over the next seven years will rise by a further £69bn, with most of this paid for through consumers’ bills. We will continue to press for greater scrutiny of this funding to ensure it is delivered at the lowest possible cost.
What were your highlights from the 2014 Autumn Statement? What key changes will make the biggest impact on your budgets?
How will the Autumn Statement affect you?
I don't think it will affect me (45%, 127 Votes)
It will have a positive impact on my finances (30%, 85 Votes)
It will have a negative impact on my finances (25%, 71 Votes)
Total Voters: 283