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What to expect from the 2024 Spring Budget

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4 March 2024

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Matt Jeffery

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing to share the Spring Budget this week.

As we eagerly anticipate Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s impending announcement of the Spring Budget on Wednesday, the economic landscape paints a cautious picture. With a rise in gilt yields and a challenging economic outlook, the scope for significant giveaways appears limited. However, despite this constraint, there’s still anticipation surrounding potential measures that could shape fiscal policy.

Independent financial adviser, Matt Jeffery, shares his thoughts on what we can expect

It’s widely speculated that the Chancellor may reserve the most ambitious and costly measures for later in the year, possibly aligning them with an Autumn Statement or an election manifesto. Key areas of focus include national insurance and inheritance tax, which are under scrutiny as we approach the Budget announcement.

Navigating fiscal rules

Compliance with fiscal rules remains paramount for the government, with a set of self-imposed guidelines dictating limits on debt and government borrowing as a proportion of GDP over a five-year horizon. While the Chancellor is expected to meet these rules, there persists a level of scepticism among economists regarding the true health of UK public finances.

Analysts note that the Chancellor is navigating with a significantly reduced fiscal headroom compared to his predecessors. Despite an estimated £15bn of headroom against fiscal rules, this pales in comparison to the historical average, indicating a tighter fiscal environment. Forecasts suggest that even a modest £10bn giveaway could offer a marginal lift to economic growth, albeit with potential inflationary implications.

Income tax and National Insurance

Regarding potential changes, attention is drawn to income tax and National Insurance. While there’s room to manoeuvre, any significant reductions in income tax would pose substantial costs. Instead, the government is reportedly considering a reduction in employee national insurance, balancing fiscal constraints with targeted relief.

Inheritance tax

Inheritance tax reform remains a contentious issue, with speculation abound regarding potential abolishment or adjustments to thresholds. However, given its relatively modest contribution to the tax revenue and its limited impact on a minority of estates, significant changes may be deferred to a later date.

ISA changes

Discussions also revolve around potential Isa changes, including the introduction of a ‘British Isa’ and reforms to the Lifetime Isa. Additionally, housing market dynamics could feature prominently, with considerations for stamp duty cuts and the possibility of a 99 percent mortgage scheme to stimulate home buying.

In summary, while the Chancellor faces fiscal constraints, there remains a degree of flexibility to enact targeted measures aimed at navigating the economic challenges ahead. As we await the Budget announcement, it’s essential to stay attuned to developments that may shape the financial landscape in the coming year.
 
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THIS ARTICLE REPRESENTS THE VIEWS OF THE ADVISER AND DOES NOT CONSTITUTE AS FINANCIAL ADVICE.

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