Chancellor George Osborne gave his Autumn Statement this morning, outlining what we can expect as we head into the next financial year.
Although many of the policies in the chancellor’s statement had already been either hinted at or announced - in what has been called “one of the most leaked Autumn Statements in living memory” - the reactions were strong and varied, both inside and outside of the House of Commons.
A key policy that was met with little controversy, was the announcement that the personal allowance - the portion of an individual’s earnings that remains tax free - is to be increased to £10,000. The chancellor also announced that, from 2015, it will increase in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
Osborne was keen to emphasise his support for UK businesses, announcing that employer National Insurance contributions will be abolished for employees under the age of 21. Saga welcomed this news:
“Today's abolition of NICs for under 21s in the Autumn statement is great news" said Paul Green Director of Communication for Saga, "We have been campaigning for a cut in taxes on employing young people and the long term unemployed for many years and we are delighted the Government have listened and acted.”
Other policies proved more controversial. On the decision to implement a cap on total welfare spending - not including the state pension - the Citizen’s Advice Bureau commented:
“An artificial cap on the state safety net risks the wellbeing of millions of people. People who face difficulties through no fault of their own, like those with a disability or whose wages cannot keep up with sky-high housing and childcare costs, should not pay the price for a political gamble.”
Another announcement that was unwelcome for some, although somewhat expected, was that the raising of the state pension age to 68 will be brought forward. While some argued that the move is necessary due to increasing life expectancies, some worried about the impact on particular industries:
“For an occupation like farming which is involves a high level of physical outdoor work, the announcement that many of those now in in their 40s won’t receive a state pension until 68 – or possibly later - is deeply worrying,” said Sean McCann, personal finance specialist at NFU Mutual.