Spring Budget 2024

March 7, 2024

On 6 March, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivered his Spring Budget to the House of Commons declaring it was “a Budget for long-term growth.” The fiscal update included a number of new policy measures, such as a widely-anticipated reduction in National Insurance, abolition of the non-dom tax status and new savings products designed to encourage more people to invest in UK assets. The Chancellor said his policies would help build a “high wage, high skill economy” and deliver "more investment, more jobs, better public services and lower taxes."

OBR forecasts

During his speech, the Chancellor declared that the economy had “turned the corner on inflation” and “will soon turn the corner on growth” as he unveiled the latest economic projections produced by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). He started by saying that they showed the rate of inflation falling below the Bank of England’s 2% target level in “a few months’ time.” He noted that this was nearly a year earlier than the OBR had forecast in the autumn and said this had not happened “by accident” but was due to “sound money” policies.

The Chancellor also noted that the OBR forecast shows the government is on track to meet both its self-imposed fiscal rules which state that underlying debt must be falling as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) by the fifth year of the forecast and that public sector borrowing must be below 3% of GDP over the same time period. Indeed, in relation to the second rule, Mr Hunt pointed out that borrowing looks set to fall below 3% of GDP by 2025/26 and that by the end of the forecast period it represents the lowest level of annual borrowing since 2001.

In terms of growth, Mr Hunt revealed that the updated OBR projections suggest the UK economy will expand by 0.8% this year, marginally higher than the fiscal watchdog’s autumn forecast. Next year’s growth rate was also revised upwards to 1.9% compared to the 1.4% figure previously predicted.

Cost-of-living measures

The Chancellor also announced a series of measures designed to help families deal with cost-of-living pressures. These included: an extension to the Household Support Fund at current levels for a further six months; maintaining the ‘temporary’ 5p cut on fuel duty and freezing it for another 12 months; an extension of the freeze in alcohol duty until February 2025; an extension in the repayment period for new budgeting advance loans from 12 months to 24 months, and abolition of the £90 charge for a debt relief order.

Personal taxation, savings and pensions

Following previous changes to National Insurance Contributions (NICs) from January 2024, the government announced further changes to take effect this April:

To remove unfairness in the system, changes to Child Benefit were announced:

The government announced two savings products to encourage UK savings – a new UK Individual Savings Account (ISA) and British Savings Bonds:

Expressing concern that, across the pensions industry, investment into UK equities is only around 6%, the Chancellor announced plans to bring forward requirements for Defined Contribution pension funds to publicly disclose the breakdown of their asset allocations, including UK equities, working closely with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to achieve this.

The non-dom tax regime, available to some UK residents with permanent domicile overseas, is to be abolished. From April 2025, new arrivals to the UK will not have to pay tax on foreign income and gains for the first four years of their UK residency. After that, they will pay the same tax as other UK residents. Transition arrangements will be allowed for current non-doms.

In addition:

Business measures

Various business measures announced included the raising of the threshold at which small businesses must register to pay VAT from £85,000 to £90,000 from April 2024. In addition, the Recovery Loan Scheme for small businesses will be extended until March 2026.

Property taxation

The Chancellor also announced the government’s plans to make the property tax system fairer, by:

Public services

“Good public services need a strong economy to pay for them, but a strong economy also needs good public services.” This is how the Chancellor introduced the government’s “landmark” Public Sector Productivity Plan which, it says, will restart public sector reform and change the Treasury’s traditional approach to public spending.

Our National Health Service is, said Mr Hunt, “rightly the biggest reason most of us are proud to be British.” He announced £3.4bn to modernise NHS IT systems, which is forecast to unlock £35bn of savings by 2030 and boost NHS productivity by almost 2% per year between 2025/26 and 2029/30.

This includes:

The Chancellor announced a £2.5bn funding boost for the NHS in 2024/25, allowing the service to continue its focus on reducing waiting times for patients.

Mr Hunt also announced £800m of additional investment to boost productivity across other public services, including:

Other key points

Closing comments

Jeremy Hunt signed off his Budget saying he was delivering, “A plan to grow the economy, a plan for better public services, a plan to make work pay… Growth up, jobs up and taxes down. I commend this Statement to the House.”

It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this document is based on our current understanding of the Budget taxation and HMRC rules and can be subject to change in future. It does not provide individual tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK; please ask for details. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from taxation are those currently applying or proposed and are subject to change; their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor.

All details are believed to be correct at the time of writing (6 March 2024)


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