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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?


£bn52 + for twenty minutes saving on a journey???

I think the time saving is just a sound-bite there – the real strategic value would be the increase in transport capacity…

Indeed; it was a bizarre claim for anyone to make in the early stages, when the reality is that the entire Railway network needs to be enlarged and enhanced. HS2 offers both, albeit at a premium. Best of all, of course, is that it should reduce road traffic significantly and hence pollution – the major cause of premature deaths in cities.

It is is good to mention that, when more traffic goes by rail, everyone benefits, not just train passengers.

A new line to provide additional capacity may, or may not be needed. I suspect in future we may see less travelling, particularly on business which, as HS2 only caters for passengers, may be the main users (along with commuters). However, a high speed line, at substantial extra cost and no real business case to support that, seems the wrong approach. No intermediate stations between London and Birmingham so, apart from being unable to handle any commuter traffic, passengers from that area must travel into London to get on HS2 to travel out again. Stops at a couple of towns along the way would have enhanced its use and avoided yet more crowding on London locals.

Well, the line can accommodate freight as well as passengers, and the freight would run overnight, so that resolves that issue. The high-speed aspect is important, for several reasons. It will enable major businesses to have their management live further away, thus lessening congestion on the roads, reducing pollution, enabling businesses to operate more efficiently (assuming we still have some after brexit) and it will slash the use of Air travel between the major cities, which can only be a good step.

HS2 is intended to facilitate high speed connections between the major population centres that are both frequent and fast and the addition of any intermediate stations would impede that aim.

Finally, all the evidence suggests that whenever a country introduces High Speed Rail services, they are used and used a great deal. It’s just a shame that the as yet unforeseen positive outcomes can’t be more clearly communicated.

As I think we already know, businesses already strive to minimise travel, but it is often still necessary.

When I lived near Manchester and had to visit London for business, I was impressed by the speed of the service, if I could get a Pendolino whose first stop after London was Crewe (or vice versa).

So I’m sure there is a value to having fast long haul train services.

No plans for HS2 to accommodate freight still, as far as I know. And why we should encouragement “management to live further away” and then subsidise their travel seems an odd approach. We should be reducing commuting, not increasing it. There are plenty of pleasant places for management to live to live that are nearer London than Birmingham.

Railways provided a step change in travelling times from the outset. Now, just consider how much time needs to be spent travelling from London to Birmingham – travelling from home to the local station, train into London, transport to the HS2 station, leaving sufficient time to ensure you catch the trains, and transport from Birmingham to your final destination, and I’d suggest the time saved on HS2 is not hugely significant as all the other parts of your journey are unchanged.

Were we awash with spare cash then putting money into projects without a demonstrable payback might be OK, but when we have squeezed essential services like the police, social care, education, road repairs, and could be investing in energy generation for the future from tidal power for example, I think we could be more prudent in the use of money.

malcolm r said:Today 13:13

No plans for HS2 to accommodate freight
HS2 track will be the same gauge as standard track, so I seriously doubt the powers that be will simply say “Oh – we didn’t plan to use it for freight ,so we’ll let it stand empty overnight…” Freight will run overnight during the time non-passenger trains use it.

I’d suggest the time saved on HS2 is not hugely significant as all the other parts of your journey are unchanged.

I believe you’re missing the point. It’s not the time saved on individual journeys that’s relevant; it’s the overall improvement that will be made to the transport infrastructure that matters. And the cut in pollution. And the consequent increase in life expectancy.

Were we awash with spare cash then putting money into projects without a demonstrable payback might be OK,

Read up on Modern Monetary Theory. We have the money, because we print it. And no – it doesn’t cause inflation, because the B of E has been printing trillions since 2008. They call it Quantitative easing. And inflation’s never been lower.

And why we should encouragement “management to live further away” and then subsidise their travel seems an odd approach.
Er…who’s ‘encouraging’ anything? It will ‘allow’ it – not the same thing.

but when we have squeezed essential services like the police, social care, education, road repairs, and could be investing in energy generation for the future from tidal power for example, I think we could be more prudent in the use of money.

But they’re political decisions by a Tory government. They bear little relation to the reality of the situation.

Here’s a view on freight. https://www.k2-partners.com/why-is-hs2-important-to-uk-freight-transport-infrastructure/ No provision. When passenger services are not running, the down time seems reserved for maintenance.

A decent standard railway would meet the points raised in the second statement.

” The high-speed aspect is important, for several reasons. It will enable major businesses to have their management live further away,“. That is suggesting longer distance commuting is being encouraged. HS2 is likely to be subsidised; a business case have never been made.

All governments have to decide how to use the taxes we give them. Printing money leads to inflation, and as we trade globally our currency will devalue, and imports will become more expensive. I don’t buy into this concept that we can just print money – other countries that have done this suffer from rapidly increasing inflation. However, perhaps there is an economist out there who can put us straight.

malcolm r says:Today 17:02
Here’s a view on freight. https://www.k2-partners.com/why-is-hs2-important-to-uk-freight-transport-infrastructure/ No provision.
I’ve already said they won’t leave the lines idle. Why would they?
“” The high-speed aspect is important, for several reasons. It will enable major businesses to have their management live further away,“. That is suggesting longer distance commuting is being encouraged.
Long distance commuting is already a fact of life. It needs no encouragement. If we want the roads less congested then making it easier for people to live away and still get to work quickly seems reasonable to me.
HS2 is likely to be subsidised; That’s supposition. But all major infrastructure is, initially at least, subsidised. Look at Crossrail. As are the railways of Europe.

All governments have to decide how to use the taxes we give them. Printing money leads to inflation,
Q: So why haven’t we seen rampant inflation given how many trillions the BofE has printed since 2008?
A: because it doesn’t. It’s far more complex than that.
I don’t buy into this concept that we can just print money – other countries that have done this suffer from rapidly increasing inflation.
Those countries have endured very different conditions. As I said, read up on Modern Monetary Theory.

There seem to be a lot of views online about the dangers of quantitative easing and inflation “Description: Quantitative easing is aimed at maintaining price levels, or inflation. However, these policies can backfire heavily, leading to very high levels of inflation. In case commercial banks fail to lend excess reserves, it may lead to an unbalance in the money market.“. I doubt it is simple.

It would be useful if it could accommodate freight, but it seems there are insufficient links to the existing network, and the loading gauge is not sufficient to carry European stock. Freight may as well use any freed-up space on the standard lines. However, I understand Railfreight is having another look at this.

It also seems a poor decision not to link HS2 with HS1 to allow through running. When initially proposed the additional cost was £700m, which, in terms of the overall cost, would have been an additional 2%.

That last point is curious, I agree. But they’re currently digging up an ancient graveyard at Euston to allow the HS2 terminus to go there. We often travel to Euston, then on to the continent from St Pancras. At St Panc’s, of course, you have security and passport control, so that might have been one consideration.

I believe the government should close the tax loopholes that allow companies like Amazon, ebay, Boots chemist and lots of others to avoid paying UK tax


Agree. We wouldn’t be in such a financial mess if they all pulled their weight. Is the government scare of big business?

I think the political parties are beholden to donations from businesses and are also wary of upsetting the media, as is mostly run by businesses.

We need to increase our spending on Defense from 2% to 6% of GDP immediately to provide proper protection for our Country.

Michael says:
27 October 2018

Only if we first free ourselves from subseviance to American interests and so can defend our own along with Europe.

Time to give basic rate (20%) tax relief only on pension contributions. I’d also like to see the winter fuel payment based on need, not universal, and prescriptions paid for by all those with adequate means, bearing in mind you can buy an annual card to give unlimited prescriptions for just £104.

No way – why should we ordinary mortals have to pay out when the likes of Phil Green and his cronies are taking the p**s. Clamp down on tax dodging and put the top rate back up to 80 pence in the pound – these parasites can easily afford to make a proper contribution to our society.

They aren’t all parasites. The top rate of income tax affects many very hard working people. Raise the threshold first. The problem is that you wouldn’t make the really big earners pay up: they would dodge the tax somehow and leave our best, honest workers to carry the burden

There is far too much means testing already and those who support it need to think very carefully just how much it can escalate. Too much of our NHS, Education, Welfare Services, What was Council Housing and many more are at least in part effectively means tested and this rapidly results in less support and an undermining of such provisions. Council Housing became Social Housing and now whereas it was ringfenced and self-supporting it is now a total unfair mess and not only unpopular but now under attack by many, not just the few.

Dave R says:
27 October 2018

I understand that 25% of tax paid comes from the top 1% of earners!

What on earth is a ‘convo’ ?

Nick – convo is used here as an abbreviation for “conversation”…

Sadly, this convo seems to have been turned into more of a squabble…

LLoyd Stanley says:
26 October 2018

I would like to see the goverment get rid of the dreaded BEDROOM TAX and to completly get stop the Universal Credit rollout, this has caused much stress to people on benefits and has cost lives!!!!
Also the goverment should pledge to reduce money being sent to foreign countries… they need to start remembering that it is the U.K that they are supposed to look after!!!!!!!!

Joseph Marshall says:
26 October 2018

As the Prime Minister has told us that the austerity programme will end, I’d like to see some evidence of this in Philip Hammond’s budget. Specifically, I’d like to know where the money is going to be found to fix the rolling disaster that is Universal Credit. Over to you, Showbiz Phil . . .

I would love to see the money being squandered on HS2 being redirected to upgrade our existing railways and supporting the NHS and social care.

Yes but we do need a proper rail system not just a revamp of the rocket system.
Possibly a larger double story similar to the Channel Tunnel that can also take HGVs and cars.

That would move larger numbers of passengers without high speed. High speed has high pitch sound problems that travel miles away as experienced in France. The only HS system that does not is the more expensive floating magnetic [or what ever it is called].

That would be the ideal But due to cost it would take forever. But we have to start somewhere with a 23rd century system.

I agree but the redirection of funds should go to rolling out super fast broadband rather than railways. People don’t need to be in the same room to work together. By the time HS2 is completed, travelling to work will not be necessary for many people. After all, it only shaves minutes off a journey!

richard riddall says:
26 October 2018

i suspect that you’re right about inter-commuter links replacing convocations in office buildings, although this might not be a good thing from the viewpoint of mental health.

Double decker trains would need every bridge rebuilding.

Measures to prevent freeholders registering English & Welsh house ownership offshore & a windfall tax on builders bonuses. I have to state England & Wales because this isn’t allowed to happen in Scotland or Northern Ireland. This should ultimately lead to the abolition of leasehold properties, replace with commonhold & an end to the use of Section 106 agreements (based on a section of the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act that are private agreements made between local authorities and developers) that forces residents/tenants on housing estates to foot the bill (in the form of a maintenance charge) for public areas. the long term impact of retaining this feudal system will adversely affect the property market, retired people not able to afford to stay in their homes & affect consumer spending. I will soon have to decide ‘do i get the boiler serviced this year or do i pay the maintenance for a patch of public land so i don’t become homeless?’. At least 4 million people have been mis sold properties..
Consumer rights on this issue have merely been skimmed by Which & yet it’s the biggest outlay most consumers will make in their entire lives & they don’t even get to own the property. anyone who has got a mortgage on a property from 2003 onwards may be in for a massive shock – paying a mortgage for [in some cases hundreds of] thousands on a house, only to discover that the freehold has been sold privately without letting you know until after it’s been sold for a very small amount of money & that you don’t even own the property or land [& it’ll be registered offshore by someone like William Waldorf Astor] & having to pay doubling or added RPI ground rent every 10/15 years & uncapped maintenance.

An end to leasehold must also be retrospective. It is a homebuilders’ scam that has existed for far too long. It is unreasonable that so many new blocks of flats continue to be sold only as leasehold, when commonhold has existed for so many years.

I agree that leaseholds are a really horrible way of “owning” property.

Surely the question is what is Which? doing about it. The second question is whether Which?; trying to launch it’s mortgage service for the last eight years, actually turned a blind eye to the unfairness and corruption in the housing market and the need for warning purchasers against tied solicitors/ conveyancers and major housebuilders.

As it stands Which? Mortgage Services despite receiving over £7m from mortgage providers, solicitors , and clients recorded a loss of over £2.5m. The total losses to date around £24m.

You may think that for the country’s largest consumer body to miss the warning signs highlighted in Scotland in the early 2000’s curious. Fortunately the Scots fought and changed the law.

See here

Housebuilders have managed to form a cosy cartel, have been building poor housing, and benefitted from a government policy that directly helps sell new builds. They have been brutal in exploiting the innocence of most people on property law and been helped in the process by other incompetent or greedy legal firms. Still nothing for Which? to write about until it took a Building Society, the Nationwide, to make a fuss about it. Not that the Guardian and others had been mentioning it for a several years.


Nothing here then for a consumer organisation?

I’d like to see all land approved for building to be taken into public ownership at a standard price. I am uncomfortable with land making huge amounts of money simply because a public body has the means to gift planning approval. House prices will remain subject to supply and demand, but the underlying cost of new properties would be significantly reduced. This should help the public housing sector to be enlarged.

Why all the comments on Brexit and associated issues ? That is not the issue with the budget.

The Tories say that AUSTERITY is over – true, it is over the edge and collapsing. Where has it got us ?

Absolutely nowhere other than head deep in the **** you know what.

Osborne dusted off the Tory policies of the 1920/30s and followed them very carefully step by step without faltering. Those policies led to DEFLATION, resulting it REDUCTION in public service pay such as teachers and nurses – not just a freeze but a reduction in pay.

And that is still the Tory policy – make the public services pay for the greed of the banks and financial services. The very people who had no hand in the financial collapse. But those that did have a big hand in the financial collapse were rewarded with a REDUCTION in their tax.

NOT one penny has been spent in “pump prime” of the economy. WHY ?

We are short of social housing all over the country. So if we started investing in building them that would create employment which would increase tax income, which would create demand for all things associated with new housing – furnishings, gardens etc., that in turn would create more employment and more tax. More apprenticeships + mote technical teachers; and so it rolls on. Totally ignored by the Tories.

Every town and village should have to have a minimum percentage of social housing – say 20%. No private building until that is achieved. Any land with or without planning consent to be compulsory purchased for social housing. Housing to have as before minimum standards in room sizes and to be fully insulated with solar power. More jobs, more tax, more training.

The 3rd runway, which in reality is the 3rd + 4th + 5th and who knows how many more.
Why was it shoehorned into only the London area ?

Willie Walsh stated on TV – “We need a HUB airport, if not built in England it will be built in Europe” that in it’s self proves it can be built ANYWHERE.
He went on “.. it is not another feeder to serve London ..” so why is it shoehorned into London ?
“… Few if any passengers will leave the HUB as they are only changing planes to continue to their destination ..” Again – WHY shoehorn it to London area ?

London is already over crowded with airports, has uncontrolled air pollution from planes, cars and HGVs.
Cost to build in London is 3 to 4 times more expensive than to build in the north where airports are few and far between.

To build in London will cause more pollution, more motorway traffic more rail links, more expensive road works. Create yet more demand for housing, more schools etc. More HGV journeys from the north with goods to be flown out. More cost to passengers from the north.

Build it in the north with link to HS 2, would save a huge amount of money that could be diverted to the HS2 and cross Pennine link. Would save on costs all across the development, would reduce the unemployment caused by this governments lack of initiatives. That in turn would attract other companies.

Far more to be gained by building in the north than by any solution being shoehorned in to London.

It was not the Tories that spent all the money and then borrowed a hundred times more. Labour caused austerity by not being ready for the gready bankers, who were working to the Labour plan of live beyond your means.

Barbara says:
26 October 2018

Where does the NHS come in all this? We desperately need injections (!) of cash into it – who wants to sacrifice ancient land and space to add a rail link, plus adjacent worksheds, etc. to get us to Birmingham 20 minutes earlier – and then get into a traffic jam.

Don’t worry, Barbara. When Brexit happens on 29th March 2019, there will be an additional £350 million per week for the NHS, as promised clearly on the side of a bus by a campaign supported by current and recent government ministers.

Like all Tory budgets, there will be nothing in it that benefits the majority of the population. A few crumbs may be thrown our way, but Tory budgets have always only benefited the few. This one will be no different.

How can the Tory budget give much to the people when we are still paying off Labour bills.

Alison says:
26 October 2018

What on earth is a ‘pensions dashboard’? Could we ditch the jargon and deal in English?

It is a means to see where all your pensions are, for those who don’t keep track. A government “initiative” likely to be carried out by the pensions/insurance industry on their behalf. Why they can’t simply call it “your pensions” instead of a meaningless “dashboard” beats me, but I suppose someone felt it was smart.

Helen Wright says:
27 October 2018

Business rate relief. I know it’s been mentioned in the news in the last 24 hours but it needs to apply to both shops and services on the high street. If it goes up any further I will have to close my business and sack 3 people. It’s killing small businesses whilst online companies get away with it.

Hey Helen,

Seems the Chancellor is planning rate relief – for small shops, at least – in today’s budget: https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/26/budget-to-offer-business-rates-relief-for-small-shops

Some acknowledgement of the plight of WASPI ladies. Transitionsl payments needed desperately!

Elizabeth Fletcher says:
27 October 2018

Make the ‘new’ state pension available to all pensioners, no matter when they were born.

I would like the government to assure people that the widows pension will still be paid to non EU wives Also that British fathers on low income with children abroad whom they have to provide for get the child benefit everyone else gets ,even those whose children are not UK citizens

He should reduce the VAT as we will not need to pay as much, on leaving the EU.

Raymond Hardway says:
27 October 2018

I think there is nothing more to it ; we need more in the national finances – and those earning more than a certain amount should pay more tax. Sad – but true, I think! Sincerely, Raymond Hardway

Having been a firm Tory supporter for the past 62 years, I’ve never been so disillusioned as I am now with the antics of this present Government.

I find it quite unbelievable that suddenly huge tax dodges by the multinationals and very wealthy individuals suddenly come to light, What were the tax investigators and ministers doing whilst allowing these half legal swindles to continue for years? precisely nothing whilst they enjoyed their huge salaries, handouts and colossal pension payouts???

Why does the Government allow the gigantic and blatant rip-offs by the Energy Giants, The Banks, the Fuel suppliers at the pumps, the Water companies and the Rail companies when instead of fighting each other over the Brexit issues they should concentrate on making their voters less vulnerable to these rip-off merchants???

The wastage in the NHS is colosal which could quite easily be stopped by the management and Government officials doing what they’re paid to do instead of treating their jobs within the NHS purely as a highly paid income.

With President Putin now causing extreme concern in the world, we should concentrate on our defence system other than cutting as many corners as we can in order to save money. The same goes to our Police Force which we are constantly told is understaffed, as a result, our serious crimes being committed are on a level with the USA, Every day we have on the news of shootings, stabbings, sex crimes etc. etc. which were quite rare 10 years ago compared with today’s figures.

These are just a handful of the issues which should, in my opinion, be addressed in next weeks budget

Lionel Harwood

So will you be voting Labour next time?

I am with you on this Lionel. particularly the NHS and Defence. The politicians keep pontificating about increasing Productivity. The next time you are out and about have a look at the number of Roadworks there are without anyone working in the coned off areas. I live next to a local Railway Line and it is amazing the number of Network Rail vans are parked with the “workers” sitting in these vans/cabs reading the weekend papers, drinking Tea/Coffee and or zzzzzzing. This country COULD be GREAT again but the culture in so many ways is ME ME ME and to hell to anyone else.

Not on you Life.