A year on from Chancellor George Osborne’s ‘Budget for Growth’ in 2011, Britain and consumers are still in poor financial health. So what do we want from the government’s 2012 Budget?
The economy shrank last month, renewing double recession fears. Unemployment continues to rise and global ratings agencies appear to be on a constant threat to downgrade the UK’s credit rating.
Worse still, we’re struggling to get by in our everyday lives. Our Consumers 2012 report found that, among other things, some people are going into debt to pay for everyday essentials like food.
Budget 2012 speculation
However, the Budget this year looks set to be less about how hard-pressed consumers can be helped, but where the nation itself can start saving even more money. Among the speculation for next Wednesday’s Budget speech are:
- The abolition of child benefit for higher rate taxpayers.
- A loss of higher rate pension tax relief.
- A cut in how much you can annually contribute to a pension.
On the plus side though, there’s talk of personal tax-free allowances increasing to £10,000, which will give a great number of people a little bit of relief. And rumours are rife that VAT may come down back to 17.5%.
What Which? wants to see from the Budget 2012
Clare Corbett, principal advocate at Which?
We’d like the government to allow transfers from child trust funds (CTFs) into Junior Isas, so that all children have access to the very best savings rates. Currently, children who took out a CTF are trapped in products that are paying poorer interest rates than Junior Isas.
It would be a positive development for children and parents if they could transfer their savings into the new Junior Isa products.
Richard Headland, Which? Car Editor
Given current record fuel prices, we would hope that the Chancellor will scrap August’s planned 3p duty rise. However, Osborne has already indicated that a duty cut (as see in last year’s budget) is unlikely.
We would also welcome the scrapping of VAT on child seats, as the law considers these to be a mandatory safety item.
The Chancellor is also due to confirm the next tranche of rates for Vehicle Excise Duty (car tax) and company car tax. Both systems already reward cars with low CO2 emissions, and it’s possible the bands will be tightened further as average vehicle CO2 emissions fall.
Still, we’d welcome a wider review of how CO2 emissions are calculated for electric and part-electric cars, as their carbon footprint is very different depending on whether they’re charged from the National Grid or from a renewable energy source.
Pete Moorey, principal Which? advocate
We’d like the government to scrap the ‘carbon price floor’ in 2012’s Budget. We don’t think this tax on energy firms will achieve its aim of encouraging significant new investment in low-carbon electricity, and we worry it will hit cash-strapped households unnecessarily.
So, a decision by the Chancellor to abandon this unnecessary measure would send a clear signal that consumers are at the heart of the government’s energy policy.
But what do you want to see from the Chancellor’s 2012 Budget? Is there anything George Osborne could announce that would make your life easier?