The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has made a name as a reforming Chancellor and, while not without controversy, his reforms over the past 20 months – in which period we’ve seen three budgets! – have been generally welcomed in respect of ISAs and pensions.
There has been renewed commitment to ISAs with increased savings limits and a long-overdue simplification of rules about saving in ISAs. The new pension freedoms which came into effect this April, having been unexpectedly announced the year before, were radical and have significantly increased the importance of retirement planning.
This Wednesday, 25 November, the Chancellor will deliver his latest Autumn Statement and we shouldn’t expect any let up in Mr Osborne’s zeal to deal with the economic issues of the day.
Unfortunately the economic issues he faces are not benign. The Government is committed to make inroads on the UK’s significant budget deficit so don’t expect anything other than continued or indeed, for many, increased austerity.
That’s because the Government has said that tax credits will be cut as a way of reducing the national debt but this has been met by widespread concern about its impact on mid and lower income earners. Wednesday’s Statement will reveal if the appeals for clemency have fallen on deaf ears.
In the meantime, there have been calls from many, including Scottish Friendly, to change pension tax incentives to encourage more middle and lower-income earners to put money aside for their retirement.
It may be that, given the gravity of the issues the Chancellor faces in respect of tax credits, making further reforms to ISAs and pensions may be off the radar on Wednesday and instead may be addressed in next year’s Budget at the earliest.
But Mr Osborne has now made a name for himself as the Chancellor who always manages to pull some rabbit or other out his hat at times like these, so it’s never wise to take anything for granted before Wednesday!