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Update: Autumn Budget 2018

On Monday, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond MP, will set out the UK Government’s proposals for tax and spending for the next financial year. Here’s what we want to see, based on our campaigning through 2018.

Update: 29/10/2018

We’re covering the latest announcements from the Budget here.

You can also follow the updates from Which? Money on Twitter.


Many of the Chancellor’s proposals in Monday’s budget will apply across the whole of the UK, however the governments in Wales and Scotland will set out their own proposals for public spending and in the case of the Scottish Government personal and property tax levels in the coming weeks.

Autumn Budget 2018: get all the latest news here

Over the last year, consumer expenditure was more than £105 billion per month, and is continuing to grow. Consumer confidence, critical to a strong economy, has stabilised after a year of falling and, on average consumers feel slightly more positive than negative about the outlook for their finances in the year ahead. However, it’s important that the Government continues to take practical steps to support consumers.

Here we set out three things the Chancellor could announce to help consumers.

Access to cash

We’re expecting the Chancellor to announce something on the future of digital payments and cash. Although the use of cash has declined, it’s still relied upon by millions of people and businesses across the UK, and we’re seeing people struggling to access cash through the double blow of bank branch and cashpoint closures, which are happening at an alarming rate.

That’s why we are calling on the Government to intervene by placing a duty on the Payment Systems Regulator to protect access to cash and ensure communities aren’t suddenly stripped of this crucial payment method.

Consumer enforcement

Consumers must be confident that their consumer rights, including requirements for fair trading practices, safety and quality standards, are enforced, and they are able to obtain redress when something goes wrong.

The UK has one of the strongest consumer rights frameworks in the world, but the public and private enforcement systems that support it are no longer fit for purpose. The system is under strain at a time when the UK’s exit from the EU makes it even more essential that there is a robust system in place that can deal with the complex threats facing consumers.

This is certainly an issue on the Government’s radar, and while it might be a bit premature, an announcement to boost investment in modernising the consumer enforcement regime, ensuring it is centrally resourced to underpin the UK’s consumer rights framework, would be very welcome.

Pensions Dashboard

From revealing the pension freedom reforms to the first commitment to the much-needed pensions dashboard, there’s hardly a Budget that passes without speculation about pension changes to help people better engage with their retirement savings.

We’ve been calling on the Government to set out the time-frame for implementing the dashboard since the start of the year. We want to ensure that all pension schemes provide clear, comprehensive data through the dashboard so consumers can finally see all their savings in one place.

The Government must also ensure that the state pension is shown on the dashboard, and set a clear framework to ensure that the industry-led dashboard actually works for consumers. We know the Government is set to publish its direction of travel soon, so we’ll be looking out for it next week.

We’ll be updating this Convo throughout Monday as the announcements are made. What do you want to see from the 2018 Budget?


The most important thing is, whatever changes are put forward to anything in Government and the Civil Service, that we have the people in post to carry out the ‘Change Management’ aspects effectively.
For example, The Universal Credit is a pig’s ear because NO ONE saw how ridiculous it was to take away the claimants existing benefit for 5 weeks (or possible more) before starting the U C Benefit. I bet the idiots who decided it would be OK wouldn’t like to have their Salary stopped for 5 weeks.
I know that this not related directly to the Budget but I feel that the “Haves” don’t really care (as they should) about those who depend on Benefits. I know that there have been “CUTS” but nobody ever asks why it was necessary to have them. Labour’s last Chancellor, Liam Byrne, could have told them.

As far as I know it is civil servants who are responsible for carrying out the government’s policies. Their competence or otherwise will remain the same, whichever government is in power.

Thanks Malcolm, that’s so and these are the people who are still “Rewarded” with Tax Payer Funded Salaries and Pensions. “There ‘Aint Not No Justice”

Dave says:
27 October 2018

A number of comments focus on HS2 and its merits but the sad thing is most commuters don’t do these long distances, they try to get into cities from suburbia and sadly the rail and road systems are crumbling. A Manchester recruitment agency reported yesterday that people wouldn’t consider the pain of commuting into the city centre even if they were offered a salary of £50,000! The government needs to address this as a priority.

The other area which needs URGENT Government attention is the demise of town/city centre retail outlets. The media has highlighted how bad this issue is and stated that many retailers are being asked to pay very high business rates which are rising way above inflation! This is linked to the comment relating to likes of Amazon who use warehouses outside towns and as a result don’t pay town centre business rates.

In the past, I sometimes travelled on the train from Northwich to “Personchester” in the morning rush hour. Often the train got so crowded that the Guard could not come round to check tickets and collect all the fares.

I was certainly happy that I didn’t have to do that every day – but many obviously did.

I totally agree with Dave in all aspects; Getting into York via Scarborough or Leeds is a nightmare . The council has had over twenty – five years to develop the infrastructure of the ring road and has made promises over this period of time which amounted to nothing. Similarly, they have allowed out of town expansion of sites for all the big shopping magnets while inner city shops have gone to the wall because of high leases. This Labour council has let the city of York down.

we would like to see ring fenched tax increases particularly for the super rich and large corporations who dodge paying their full tax liabilities in the UK for the Health service Education the Police et al

There is so much that needs addressing but the issue of how much online companies pay in taxes really must be acted upon. What these companies, primarily American owned and using low taxation countries such as Luxenbourg to avoid proper levels of Corporation Tax, is disgraceful. Money made in the UK must be taxed in the UK. Also a rebalancing of business rates to keep a level playing field for High Street retailers against the online retailers such as Amazon (who also are not good payers when it comes to wages!). If no action is taken then all high streets will be become empty of decent retailers and leaving only betting shops, fast food outlets and charity shops.

Business rates need to be replaced by a tax on profits, a local corporation tax. Business rates can drive businesses into failure, which means empty premises and the possibility of redundant staff needing benefits.

Similarly with council tax. Instead have a local income tax assessed annually like income tax by HMRC. That would be very easy. A proportion of each person’s income tax bill would be assessed as the amount paid to local authorities wherever that person has a home. Of course if someone has lots of homes his tax may exceed his income. But no one can live in more than one house at the same time, so the solution of selling some of them would reduce his tax bill to a manageable amount.

All need to pay for the services they receive from their council. I do not see why it should be related to income. Businesses should factor in business rates as part of their financial operating model, just as they need to pay for water, energy, and other overheads. If the business model is not viable it is not for everyone else to subsidise them.

Perhaps business rates should be paid on a totally different basis. Maybe pay directly for the services they use – waste disposal say – and on their occupied square metres for fire, police, education, social services contributions. Irrespective of whether they are in a high street or in the countryside. There could be differentiation between types of business – farming with large land requirements, and separately for farm shops and enterprises.

richard says:
28 October 2018

I agree 100% the tax system lets them get away with daylight robbery, meaning other companies have to pay more to cover the shortfall in not taxing these companies in the first place. Either we legislate to tax them or massive tax per square meter on their warehouses.

The beauty of a premises-based tax is that the it is hard to fiddle, massage away or disguise through some other artifice.

Business rates are a basic tax – they don’t cover the provision of any specific services such as waste disposal but they contribute substantially to the revenues available for roads, policing, street lighting, street cleansing and fire & rescue services as well as education, social services, leisure and recreation services, and parks and open spaces which businesses might not think they benefit from but they certainly do.

The business rate is determined independently of local authorities by the Valuation Office Agency, a branch of HMRC, and is based on the property’s value according to its location, size, condition and potential rent level. Unlike council tax it enables a degree of redistribution so that high value areas [such as Westminster] subsidise areas with lower property values.

I don’t think we should tinker with the fundamental basis of the business rate and replace it with something else which would probably have various drawbacks, but I see no reason why its impact cannot be moderated from time to time for overall economic reasons.

The problem that is leading to calls for reform of the business rate is that there is no longer a level playing field in terms of input costs for businesses (a) that serve people directly in towns, cities and villages and therefore have to maintain commercial frontages and employ specialist or professional staff, and (b) that operate in basic premises in remote locations and can manage to attract enough employees even at lower than average wage levels because they are basically on-line sales platforms with a fulfilment function. The on-line businesses are sucking the profit out of the high street and not providing expensive showroom and after-sales service. If someone visits a website but doesn’t buy it costs the company nothing but the same experience in a real shop has a cost impact in terms of staff time and engagement, product handling and spoilage, shoplifting, high-standard premises maintenance, customer toilets and other facilities, and presentation. I feel that the best way to deal with the imbalance is through the tax system and by removing the opportunities to export profits and import cost centres solely in order to reduce tax liabilities.

Totally agree with Mr Howard’s comments. Amazon and others have, for far too long, been allowed to get away with paying far lower rates of tax on their huge profits( Corporation or otherwise )compared to conventional high street retailers such as Debenhams, John Lewis, HoF, etc. With a resultant decline in high street buying and huge losses as announced by Debs. [ £500 million ]. There does indeed need to be a ‘re-balancing’ of business rates. Money made in the UK must be taxed in the UK – not allowed to disappear into Luxembourg, Jersey, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Caymen/Virgin Islands or anywhere else. Any form of tax ‘avoidance/evasion’ is morally indefensible – particularly when it is allowed to happen on such an eye watering scale. It doesn’t matter who’s doing it – HRH’s, Lords /Knights of the Realm, pop/ film/ fashion, etc ‘celebrities’, dodgy businessmen/oligarchs !!! – Mr Hammond – PUT AN IMMEDIATE END TO THIS DESPICABLE PRACTICE. It’s not enough to name and shame – hit these people where it hurts – in their bulging pockets and with a huge tax bill ! Whatever happened to the much promised action following the scandal of the Paradise and Panama Papers ? What action is Philip Hammond, HM Treasury and HMRC taking to stop money being ‘sent offshore’ thereby avoiding much needed tax revenue being collected for our hard-pressed public services. This would also go along way to addressing the damage being done by this Government’s Universal Credits shambles ( yes senior government advisors and civil servants should have their salaries stopped for 5 weeks – but they likely have many months of cash stashed away to tide them over.) Then address the WASPI issue of woman born after 1953 now waiting an extra 6 years before being able to receive their state pensions. At an average of £160.00 per week over 6 years that equates to over £50,000 being lost to an individual – which can’t be reclaimed !!

Thank you for that comment.

Basically it seems to be that capital taxes are harder to avoid as opposed to income or profit taxes. It is analogous to the fact that capital punishment can’t be reversed by an appeal court years after the sentence is carried out.

Unfortunately enthusiasts of capital taxation do not address the point that capital taxes can drive the taxpayer into debt and ultimately bankruptcy. In the case of a company this can mean employees being redundant and going onto benefits, and in the case of an individual also going on to benefits, and possibly his family as well. However the owner of empty premises on high streets is still subject to the capital tax penalty. But there is nothing to stop them being auctioned with a low reserve and then bought by someone who demolishes and leaves the site vacant for speculative purposes. Empty industrial premises are often rendered nontaxable by smashing in their roofs, in an act similar to bricking up windows to avoid “window tax” years ago. High street premises so treated would be more costly to reinstate.

Empty premises on high streets that are vandalised and burned down are often not replaced.

There is another point that capital taxes are governments behaving like individuals who spend their capital down – eventually it goes and does not generate income. A government dependent on capital taxes also faces reduced income tax, which means that the rate of either or both has to go up, until the entire nation is bankrupt.

I wonder how many tax avoiders use the virtual office at:
152-160 City Road London EC1V 2NX

There are 159,902 registrations on Companies House at this postcode and most of them seem to be at the above address.

Future Renovations UK possibly taking over the contracts from SafeGlaze UK who have recently gone out of business give this virtual office address on Trustpilot.

Companies should not be able to hide behind virtual addresses. Any reputable business should have a valid operating address and it is time all businesses used the address they operate their business from.

They know who we are and where we live, and we should know the same.

Traditionally a lot of companies had a registered address at the office of their company secretary which was often a solicitors’ practice. They are commonly known as Brass Plate Companies because the only sign of their existence is a brass plate [or some other permanent notice] to indicate their presence.

I am intrigued at the possibility that there are nearly 160,000 brass plates in such a compact location. That’s a big order for Brasso [other metal polishes are available].

There is a Wikipedia article on Brass Plate Companies which gives more information.

I have located the premises in City Road on Google Street View but it is not possible to see who the occupiers are. Some commercial services provider no doubt.

I agree there now should be much better control over the locations of companies as well as the creation of parallel companies with the same directors.

I won’t deal with firms that hide behind mobile phone nos. and roller shutters and don’t have a verifiable physical address and landline phone no. on their literature, stationery, premises and vehicles.

WRT landline phone numbers on literature: Most of these that do exist are to call centres whose telephonists know little about the goods and services being offered. In addition, some of these call centres collect money for the company by charging people via their telephone bill to wait in queues.
Many government agencies use call centres as well, the most infamous being HMRC, Benefits Agency, and the NHS. Government needs to set a better example.

Interesting read John.
Brass plate structures are associated with tax havens, corporate tax havens and offshore financial centres.

It just gets me that:
those at the bottom exploit benefits on offer
those at the top exploit loopholes to get richer
those in the middle who have worked hard for their properties and savings get exploited to prop up the rest.

The internet has bred a new form of Brass plate companies in the guise of virtual offices. It is time they were all exploited to prop up the rest of us.

I also don’t deal with firms in hiding, but many people will be caught out by them and their dodgy dealings.

PC athome says:
27 October 2018

HS2 is for the military to be quickly deployed when food supplies run out – the completion date is set for when everything falls apart. Scrap universal credit and scrap police commissioners. Their budget could pay for at least 4 constables or a forensic scientist.

There is much to be done to make the best use of available funds and to ensure that the funds are put to good use not frittered away on political correctness. Police and Crime Commissioners seem to strut around to meeting after meeting with precious little positive result visible at the end of the day, just their vain impression of their own importance. Their support staff cost an absolute fortune which is more money that would be better spent on funding an efficient police force.
Let’s concentrate on using public money effectively rather than throwing cash down the drain hiring individuals, quangos and the like who are there to defend failure rather than improve efficiency.
It’s about time politicians and those in public service woke up to the fact that they exist to serve and protect the public interest rather than their own, which would be an honourable reason for living.

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Carbon tax. Climate change must be addressed.

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Hammond the Heartless. Since he became the Conservatives chancellor, he has instigated in excess of 300 Tax Rises and done absolutely nothing for pensioners since 2008. Interest rates are derisory and banks continue to use savers money held in their accounts to make billions of pounds of profit without giving anything back to those savers whose money they are using. These banksters need reminding that whilst they are charging their borrowers in excess of 20% p.a., they can afford to pay savers at least 5% interest. So pensioners have had to live off their capital for the past TEN years as pension increases have not covered food price rises despite Hammond’s claims. He also says businessmen should export more and visit overseas countries and yet he charges them a hefty flight tax to do so. He has to go. As for the Labour / Communist party, they all live in cloud cuckoo land. Hopefully, UKIP will get their act together in time for the next election as we urgently need sweeping changes leading to a much smaller government and one that listens to the people.

Richard says:
28 October 2018

The system of effort versus reward in this country is a failure. For example, many senior citizens having to go into Care, having the home and savings they worked hard for stripped from them by Local Government whilst others who worked largely worked in the so-called ‘black economy’ and usually living in rented housing have their care paid for by the rest of us. The Governments dilemma is clear but their current policy sends all the wrong messages to the majority of people who want to better themselves and in doing so pay their fair share of taxes to both Local & Central Government!

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End the frozen pensions injustice!

Inflation increases should be paid on the UK State Pension no matter where you live. We all paid in on the same basis, so we should all get our pensions paid on the same basis.

Successive governments have imposed a policy whereby just 4% of all UK pensioners world wide are denied the annual index linking to their State Retirement Pension – simply because they retired abroad to the “wrong” country and yet others, who also retired abroad to places like the USA, the Philippines and of course the EU, are treated just as if they remained in the UK. Anne Puckridge aged 93 and now living in Canada on a pension half of what it should be with index linking has travelled to London to present on Wednesday in Downing Street, a petition with almost 220,000 signatures calling for the end of this unfair and unjust freezing. There is no justification whatsoever for this policy that Hammond could and should rectify…even if it is not included in his budget.

We all paid our NI contributions while working in the UK, so we should all be entitled to the same pension. It should not be based on where we now live. That might have been thought to be OK 50+ years ago because not many people retired abroad, but in this global world many people now chose to live in other countries for a variety of reasons. Just because it’s always been that way doesn’t make it right. Why should other countries’ tax payers continue to subsidise the British Government?

It’s time to stop freezing pensions of UK retirees in Commonwealth countries – BE FAIR!

Isn’t it a bit late to be having this Conversation? The budget is all done and dusted so if we want to influence the Chancellor the Convo should really be “Budget 2019: what we want to see“.

It would be interesting, perhaps, to also have an annual Convo in, say, May each year on “Which? AGM 2019: what we want to see”.

I would like to see an end to ‘frozen’ pensions, many older people have had to move be with their families/grandchildren why should they be penalised just because of where they live…. they have paid in the same as everyone else!

Neil Harrington says:
29 October 2018

End the discrimination against pensioners retiring in the ‘wrong’ countries. Up-rate EVERYONE, it’s only fair.

Under the heading “a better deal for consumers”, the Chancellor’s budget statement contained the following items –

The government wants to support consumers to achieve better value for money.

The Budget will help rail passengers get a better deal, protect people from nuisance calls, and reduce red tape so that consumers have more choice about where they spend their money.

26-30 railcard – A new 26-30 railcard will be introduced by the end of 2018, offering a one-third discount (subject to a minimum £12 fare in the morning peak) to around 4.4 million 26 to 30 year olds in England, Scotland and Wales.96

Making it easier to claim compensation – The Budget confirms a more streamlined process for compensating passengers affected by rail delays. A one-click delay repay system will be introduced as a requirement for future rail franchises and will be available to those passengers with advance purchase and season tickets.

Blocking scams and nuisance phone calls – As part of the government’s efforts to tackle nuisance calls, National Trading Standards will receive further funding to extend their project providing telephone call blocking technology to vulnerable people.

Banning pensions cold calling – Cold calling is one of the most common methods used to initiate pension fraud. To help protect people from fraudsters, the government is publishing a response to its consultation alongside the Budget and will shortly be implementing legislation to make pensions cold calling illegal.

Promoting greater choice of wedding venues – England and Wales have outdated laws about how and where couples can marry. The government has asked the Law Commission to propose options for a simpler and fairer system to give modern couples meaningful choice. This will include looking at reducing unnecessary red tape and lowering the cost of wedding venues for couples.

Blocking scams and nuisance phone calls – As part of the government’s efforts to tackle nuisance calls, National Trading Standards will receive further funding to extend their project providing telephone call blocking technology to vulnerable people.

Nowhere near enough as only a few lucky people will benefit. When is the government going to tackle putting a stop to nuisance phone calls. They could start by making spoofing websites illegal.

Agreed, Alfa. The whole package is pretty pathetic.

The new railcard for 26-30 year olds can only increase the cost of rail travel initially for the last segment of the market that is not eligible for a railcard – those between 31 and 59 who are not in HM forces, not disabled, not two together, not with friends and family, not travelling as a family, not on a rail rover, not with a Job Centre Plus card, etc, etc – but ultimately it will increase ticket prices across the board. It would surely be better to just have peak [premium] fares and off-peak [ordinary] fares without all these discount qualifications and make the ordinary fares affordable for everyone, or – using the tax, pensions and benefits mechanisms – ensure that everyone can afford the ordinary fares.

Another tit-bit from the Budget –

Business rates public lavatories relief – The government will introduce 100% business rates relief for all public lavatories to help keep these important local amenities open.

That’s a relief. By Jove, we needed that!