Budget 2016 highlights

1. Lifetime ISA: a new ISA for retirement or to buy your first home

From April 2017, any adult under 40 will be able to open a new Lifetime ISA. Up to £4,000 can be saved each year and savers will receive a 25 per cent bonus from the government on this money.

A LISA gives savers the flexibility to save for a deposit for their first home or for retirement, from age 60, in one account. Savers can access their fund but will lose the government bonus and investment growth on it, and face a 5 per cent exit penalty, if they withdraw their LISA funds before age 60 for a reason other than putting down a deposit for their first home. Parents may think about paying into a LISA on behalf of children entering the workforce to help them get on the property ladder or start saving for retirement. 

Hannah Maundrell at Money.co.uk says: "This is a fantastic boost for anyone under 40 who's fighting the growing cost of getting on the property ladder. It's not quite so appealing if you already own a house as your cash will need to be tied up until you're 60 to get the free top up.

"This shouldn't be a replacement for saving into a pension - the sooner you start, the less you'll need to put in, in theory. Take advantage of both and you'll double the tax relief you get from the government. No doubt over 40s will be feeling disgruntled at missing out on this opportunity to get a pension boost although the increased ISA allowance will be a sweetener for some."

2. Higher ISA limit

The total amount you can save each year into all ISAs will also be increased from £15,240 to £20,000 from April 2017. Any savings paid into a LISA count towards the £20,000 annual limit. 

Maike Currie at Fidelity International says: "The Chancellor's handed a surprise golden ticket to the nation's savers by boosting the annual ISA allowance by about a third. People have come to rely on the ISA's flexibility and anything that encourages people to save is welcome news."

3. Personal Allowance and higher-rate threshold increase

The Personal Allowance is the amount of income you can earn before you start paying Income Tax. This is currently £10,600 – it will already rise to £11,000 in 2016, and will now increase further to £11,500 in April 2017.

The point at which you pay the higher rate of Income Tax will increase from £42,385 to £43,000 in 2016 and to £45,000 in April 2017.

Hannah Maundrell at Money.co.uk says: "Hiking the tax free personal allowance was always going to be a popular move as it puts more cash in workers' pockets. Upping the 40 per cent bracket will give the squeezed middle a little extra wiggle room and households in 'everyday jobs' will no doubt feel pleased that they get some reprieve after being dragged into higher-rate territory over the past few years."

4. Capital Gains Tax cuts

Another rabbit out of the hat was the fall in the Capital Gains Tax allowance. The higher rate of CGT will be cut from 28 per cent to 20 per cent and the basic rate from 18 per cent to 10 per cent with the exception of residential property and carried interest. This comes into effect in three weeks' time.

Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the gain you make when you sell something (an 'asset') that has gone up in value. It is paid at a basic or higher rate depending on the rate of Income Tax you pay.

Capital Gains Tax on residential property does not apply to your main home, only to additional properties (for example a flat that you let out).

Karen Barrett from unbiased.co.uk, says: "The reductions in CGT are massive. This is great news for those investing in shares and also perhaps an olive branch for landlords, who have been the whipping-boys for this particular Chancellor for a while now. The CGT cut could see a surge in the sale of rental properties by those who want to get out of the game, or boost the sales of second homes."

5. A longer school day for some secondary schools

A quarter of secondary schools will be able to opt in to a longer school day from September 2017 so that they can offer a wider range of activities for pupils. There will be up to £285 million a year to pay for this.

Hannah Maundrell at Money.co.uk says: "Working parents will be holding their breath to find out how their child's school fares in the postcode lottery that determines whether they qualify for funding to cover the cost of longer school days. Those that do benefit will be able to enjoy a little extra free cash as they'll need to pay for fewer hours of childcare."

6. Every school will be an academy by 2022

By the end of 2020, every school in England will be an academy or free school – or be in the process of becoming one. This will give head teachers more control over their budget and the curriculum they teach, says the Chancellor.

7. HS3 between Leeds and Manchester

£60 million has been announced to develop plans to cut journey times to around 30 minutes between Leeds and Manchester, as well as improving transport connections between other cities in the north.

8. £80 million to give Crossrail 2 the go-ahead

This will be used to continue planning for Crossrail 2. The proposed Crossrail 2 route will connect South-West and North-East London, increase tube capacity and reduce the pressure on Victoria and Waterloo stations.

9. £100 million to help people move on from emergency hostels and refuges

This will pay for 2,000 places to live for those who need to move on from emergencyhostels and refuges.

£10 million will also be available for schemes like No Second Night Out, which is aimed at helping people who have recently started rough sleeping to come off the streets after a single night.

10. New tax allowances for money earned from the sharing economy

From April 2017, there will be two new tax-free £1,000 allowances – one for selling goods or providing services, and one income from property you own.

People who make up to £1,000 from occasional jobs – such as sharing power tools, providing a lift share or selling goods they have made – will no longer need to pay tax on that income.

In the same way, the first £1,000 of income from property – such as renting a driveway or loft storage – will be tax free.

11. A levy on sugary soft drinks to boost school sports

Soft drinks companies will pay a levy on drinks with added sugar from April 2018. This will apply to drinks with total sugar content above 5 grams per 100 millilitres, with a higher rate for more than 8 grams per 100 millilitres. This won't need to be paid on milk-based drinks or fruit juices.

This will be used to double the primary PE and sport premium (the additional money schools have to spend on PE and sports).

12. Freezing beer duty

Duty rates on beer, spirits and most ciders will be frozen this year.

Guy Ellison at Investec Wealth & Investment, says: "Soft drink manufacturers are the most obvious losers today with the introduction of sugar levy for added sugar drinks while tobacco taxes continue to rise ahead of inflation, beer and spirits enjoy a tax freeze."

13. Fuel duty frozen again

Fuel duty will be frozen again in 2017-17, saving the typical motorist £75 a year. By the end of 2016-17 fuel duty will have been frozen for 6 years.

14. Class 2 NICs scrapped for self-employed people from 2018

Currently, self-employed people have to pay Class 2 NICs at £2.80 per week if they make a profit of £5,965 or over per year. They also pay Class 4 NICs if their profits are over £8,060 per year.

From April 2018, they will only need to pay one type of National Insurance on their profits, Class 4 NICs.

Paying Class 2 NICs currently enables self-employed people to build entitlement to the State Pension and other contributory benefits.

After April 2018, Class 4 NICs will also be reformed so self-employed people can continue to build benefit entitlement.

15. More funding to protect homes and businesses from flooding

Funding for new flood defences including in Leeds, York, Calder Valley and Cumbria and for maintenance of existing defences.

This will be paid for by Insurance Premium Tax, a tax on insurance premiums. The standard rate will rise from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

Kevin Pratt at MoneySuperMarket says:  "Today’s Insurance Premium Tax hike is another sting for millions of drivers and households across the country, who have already suffered an increase of 3.5 percentage points last November (from six per cent). This latest hike will add £24 to the cost of car and home cover each year and is allocated to improving flood defences, although some may well question whether this is the fairest way to approach it. It could also spark a worrying trend if the increasing cost adds a barrier to people's insurance purchasing habits in the future.

"People buying or renewing private medical insurance (PMI), mobile phone insurance and pet insurance should expect bill increases, too."

"With insurance costs rising, there is more need than ever for households to shop around at renewal. Automatically renewing with your old insurer puts you at risk of paying more each year.”

16. A new tax relief for museums and galleries will be introduced

This will be available to temporary and touring exhibitions from April 2017 – this will help museums and galleries create new exhibitions and display them around the UK. The government will consult on this during 2016.

17. Veterans will be able to keep payments from war pensions rather than using this to pay for social care

From April 2017, 4,000 Armed Forces veterans will be able to keep payments from their war pensions if they need social care.

18. A new Pensions Advice Allowance for the under 55s

This will allow people to withdraw up to £500 tax-free from their pension savings to cover the cost of financial advice, encouraging more people to take-up this valuable service. Employers will also be encouraged to provide advice in the workplace due to improved government incentives. 

19. Introduction of a Pension Dashboard

The government is encouraging the pension industry to develop a Pension Dashboard by 2019 which will let people see all their pensions, including the State Pension, in one place online helping them plan better for their retirement. 

In summary

Despite worries George Osborne might target pensions, he chose not to announce changes to pension tax relief, tax-free cash or the contribution allowances.

Hannah Maundrell at money.co.uk says: "The Chancellor will no doubt be patting himself on the back after delivering a Budget speech filled with big benefits for consumers. It's clear he didn't want to rock the boat before the EU referendum and intends to make us all feel as secure as possible so we keep the economy buoyant."


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