Autumn Statement 2015 highlights

1. £4 trillion of spending has been allocated by the government over the next five years

This year the Autumn Statement and Spending Review are combined. Today's Spending Review set out how £4 trillion of government money will be allocated over the next five years, so the government can invest in the NHS, defence, education and housing.

2. Tax credits U-turn

The Chancellor dramatically ditched tax-credit cut plans he announced in the summer including a plan to axe £4.4billion paid to working families. Under the proposal set out in July, the amount someone could earn before losing Working Tax Credit would have been cut from £6,420 to £3,850, with tax credits also limited to a family's first two children for new claimants.

It was seen as an attack on people working hard in low-paid jobs to provide for their families.  The Institute for Fiscal Studies claimed it would leave 13 million people on average £260 worse off, with 3.2 million low-paid workers losing an average of £1,350.

Christopher Mahon, Director of Asset Allocation Research at Baring Asset Management, says: "Cuts to tax credits being abandoned means that the austerity agenda has taken a knock back. The obvious winner is the UK consumer."

3. Introducing London Help to Buy and Help to Buy: Shared Ownership

A new Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme for London will give buyers 40 per cent of the home value from early 2016, as opposed to 20 per cent, as the current scheme offers.

The government is also announcing a series of other schemes, including Help to Buy: Shared Ownership to help people get on the housing ladder.

From April 1, 2016 people buying buy-to-let properties and second homes will pay an extra 3 per cent in stamp duty. Money raised from tax on people buying their second home will be used to help those struggling to buy their first home.

4. Local councils will get control over local taxes and provide extra support for social care

Councils will be given even more powers over decision making in their local areas. They will be able to add 2 per cent on council tax to pay towards social care in their areas, if they wish.

From 2020 they will be able to keep money from business rates collected from shops and businesses, to spend on local services like street repairs, libraries and transport.

Local police and crime commissioners will also have the ability to raise local council taxes. Council tax is currently made up from money that goes to local services like police and fire services as well as local councils. From next April, police forces will be able to increase the amount they require from council tax collections by 2 per cent.

5. Half a trillion pounds for the NHS

NHS England will receive £10 billion more a year by 2020 than in 2014-15. This will fund:

  • 800,000 more operations and treatments
  • 5.5 million more outpatient appointments
  • 2 million more diagnostic tests
  • Access to GP services in the evenings and at the weekend, and seven-day access to hospital services by 2020

From 2020, people with suspected cancer will be diagnosed or given the all clear within 28 days of being referred by a GP, helping to save up to 11,000 lives a year.

Over £500 million will also be spent on new hospitals including in Cambridge, Brighton and Sandwell.

6. The basic state pension will rise to £119.30 a week

The Chancellor confirmed the new single-tier State Pension (NSP) starting amount next April will be £155.65. This is in line with widespread expectations and follows the announcement last weekend that the basic state-pension for existing pensioners will increase by 2.9 per cent next April to £119.30.

Tom McPhail, Head of Retirement Policy at Hargreaves Lansdown says, "The New State Pension will eventually make life simpler in the long run. The government still has its work cut out to communicate the changes. It has to explain to millions of people approaching retirement how their individual state pension has been affected."

7.  The UK will meet its NATO target of spending 2% of national income on defence

The Ministry of Defence’s budget will be increased by more than £5 billion by 2020-2021. £1.9 billion will also be spent on cyber security over the next five years, including on a new centre to protect the UK against attacks. Counter terrorism spending will increase by 30%, including providing 1,900 new intelligence staff.

8. Part-time season tickets and money back if your train is late

New flexible season tickets will soon be available on certain lines across the country, including C2C between London and Essex, and the Great Northern Route on Thameslink. This means that commuters will be able to buy part-time season tickets, if they wish.

Commuters will also soon be able to claim compensation from their rail tickets if their train is more than 15 minutes late.

9. Tampon tax: VAT from the sale of tampons will go towards women’s charities

Around £15 million in VAT is collected each year on sanitary products. While EU rules mean that the government cannot remove all VAT on sanitary products, an annual fund will instead be set up equivalent to the yearly value of this tax.

The fund will be donated to women’s charities over this parliament, or until the UK can remove the tax from sanitary products.

10. Making the cost of going greener cheaper for households

The current Energy Companies Obligation runs until March 2017. This will be replaced from April 2017 with a new cheaper energy-supplier obligation to reduce carbon emissions which will run for five years. The changes will mean that on average 24 million households will save £30 a year on their energy bills from 2017.

The Warm Home Discount scheme will also be extended to 2020-2021. This currently gives certain low-income households a one-off reduction of £140 on their electricity bill. People can apply for the scheme online through their supplier.

11. Museums and galleries will remain free

Funding for museums and galleries will be maintained so they remain free to the public. To build on the success of the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, funding to the UK’s top athletes will be increased by 29 per cent to support Team GB at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

12. People will no longer be able to get cash compensation for minor whiplash claims

To make it harder for people to claim compensation for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims, the government is ending the right to cash compensation.

More injuries will also be able to go to the small claims court as the upper limit for these claims will be increased from £1,000 to £5,000. This means that annual insurance costs for drivers could fall by between £40 to £50 a year.

  • You can read the Autumn Statement and Spending Review in full here.