This Wednesday the new Chancellor of the Exchequer will make his first Autumn Statement. It will also present the first major indication of direction of travel for the UK economy under Theresa May’s post-Brexit administration.
There has been much speculation that the Chancellor, Philip Hammond, will shift away from the “Austerity Britain” policies which marked the tenure of the previous Chancellor, George Osborne.
This weekend, Mr Hammond put paid to the notion that his Autumn Statement will involve significantly extra government spending. However, we may find that some areas – such as roadbuilding – do have their budgets increased while others may be cut back.
These are bleak times for those who keep their money saved in deposit accounts. Many accounts have low interest rates below inflation. Will there be anything in the Autumn Statement to soften the blow for savers?
All that does seem certain is that the government will confirm the Lifetime ISA is on schedule to launch in April. This is good news for savers and investors who are prepared to put their money away specifically for house purchase or for retirement.
It is also understood that the Autumn Statement will outlaw pension cold calls from next year with big fines for firms that fall foul of the rules. This is good news indeed for we have consistently expressed alarm that scams could be one of the perils of pension freedoms.
The cold winter wind that is inflation is already upon us and is set to get worse, thus making things even harder for struggling families. It is these families upon whom the Chancellor is expected to concentrate his focus on Wednesday. Let’s hope he does and, unlike his predecessor, does not look on the Autumn Statement and the March Budget as opportunities to tinker with pensions. As a nation, we’re not saving enough for retirement, so let’s not do any more to put people off.