Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, delivered his first and last Autumn Statement to Parliament on Wednesday 23 November 2016. He announced that after next Spring’s Budget, the annual Budget will move to being held in the Autumn. A Spring Statement will be issued each year responding to the forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility, but this will not bring any further changes.
In our guide to this final Autumn Statement 2016 we consider the key measures and outcomes and look at the impact on you, your family and your business. In the post-Brexit landscape, the Chancellor was keen to herald, and support, the fast-growing, high employment economy which he boasted was confounding commentators.
There was a firm focus on infrastructure and productivity, representing a government keen to brace the UK economy for the post-Brexit challenges that may lie ahead. Mr Hammond promised to ‘chart a new future’ and turn government into an unlocker of pent-up enterprise, whether in the tech sector to keep new firms in the UK, or as an enabler of new housing to ease problems of supply.
He also reiterated the government’s plan to raise the tax-free allowance from £11,000 to £11,500 by April 2017 and to £12,500 by the end of the parliament, and restated his commitment to raising the top threshold to £50,000, but these were all simply confirming his support for George Osborne’s previous announcements.
Mr Hammond admitted that the government is no longer seeking a budget surplus by the end of the parliament, instead making a more flexible claim that public finances will return to balance ‘as soon as practicable’.
There were few new tax announcements affecting individuals, but a confirmation of pre-announced plans and measures protecting the tax base. The message to small and medium-sized businesses was one of encouragement, support, stability and certainty; more minor tweaks than major reforms.