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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will unveil the Government’s latest Autumn Statement in the House of Commons on 22nd November 2023 at around 12.30pm.  

The annual Autumn Statement provides an update on the Government’s plans for the economy based on the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

Various predictions and rumours have been discussed about what the Chancellor will include in the speech. We outline them below.

Tax cuts ‘virtually impossible’

With the UK economy still unstable due to the cost-of-living crisis plus high inflation and interest rates, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said that tax cuts are very unlikely to be included in the Autumn Statement. 

Despite several Conservative MPs, including former prime minister Liz Truss, calling for taxes to be reduced, Mr Hunt told Andrew Marr on LBC that there is no “extra legroom” to cut taxes. 

"It makes life extremely difficult," he said. "It makes tax cuts virtually impossible, and it means that I will have another set of frankly very difficult decisions.

"All I would say is, if we do want those long-term debt costs to come down, then we need to really stick to this plan to get inflation down, get interest rates down.

"I don't know when that's going to happen. But I don't think it's going to happen before the Autumn Statement on 22nd November, alas."

Inheritance Tax cut

Despite Jeremy Hunt playing down the chances of tax cuts in his speech on 22nd November, there have been rumours that the Government might make changes to Inheritance Tax.

Inheritance Tax is the tax paid on the value of a deceased person’s estate. It is currently 40% and is charged on the part of the estate that is above the tax-free threshold of £325,000. An extra £175,000 allowance is available if a main residence is passed to children or grandchildren. 

TaxAssist has a tool for calculating inheritance tax here.

National Living Wage increase

The Government has already confirmed that it will accept the Low Pay Commission’s recommendation to increase the National Living Wage (NLW) in April 2024. It is likely to be mentioned in the Autumn Statement speech. 

The NLW, which applies to workers aged over 23, is currently £10.42 an hour. Jeremy Hunt said it will increase to at least £11 an hour next April.

According to the Government, the changes will mean that the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the National Living Wage will increase by over £1,000 next year. 

Business owners must ensure they pay their staff the legal minimum hourly salary rates or they risk being fined up to £20,000 per worker

TaxAssist Accountants works with employment law service Employmentor which can provide advice in this area.

Business rates changes

Several business groups have called for the Government to take action on the negative impact of business rates in the Autumn Statement.

UK Hospitality warned that the planned inflation-linked rise to business rates in April 2024 will cost hospitality businesses an additional £234 million.

When combined with the ending of business rates relief, the group said that the sector faces “a huge £864 million in business rate costs”.

Like many other business organisations, UK Hospitality has called on the Government to freeze the business rates multiplier in England to avoid an inflation-linked rise, and maintain the business rates relief for hospitality businesses at 75%.

In the 2022 Autumn Statement, the Government extended the retail, hospitality and leisure business rates relief scheme from 50% to 75% for 2023-24.

Extension of business investment tax reliefs

The Government’s Enterprise Investment Scheme and Venture Capital Trust provide tax reliefs to encourage investors to back businesses. Sunset clauses mean both schemes are due to end on 6 April 2025.

There have been several calls for the Government to extend the schemes beyond 2025 so business owners and the economy continue to benefit. 

Among the groups that have called for an extension is the House of Commons Treasury Committee. In its response to the Committee’s report, the Government said:

“HM Treasury agrees with the Committee that the EIS and VCT sunset clauses should be extended, and the Chancellor has stated his firm intention to extend the schemes beyond the current sunset clause on 6th April 2025. 

“HM Treasury recognises the need to provide certainty to founders and investors and will provide further details on the schemes beyond 2025 at a future fiscal event.”

It’s possible that the Chancellor will announce the extension in the 2023 Autumn Statement.

Reforms to Individual Savings Accounts

According to the Financial Times: “Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is planning the biggest shake-up to Individual Savings Accounts (ISA) in years to persuade more people to take advantage of the tax-free vehicles and use them to back London-listed companies.”

The newspaper said options being considered include an extra ISA allowance for investing in UK companies, and allowing cash savings and stock market investments to be held in a single ISA, rather than separately as currently is the case.

Pensions triple lock

The triple lock is a commitment by the government to increase State Pensions by whichever is the higher of average earnings growth, CPI inflation or 2.5%. 

The promise would mean that pensions could rise by 8.5% in 2024 if bonuses are included in average earnings, but there have been rumours that the Government may not keep the commitment due to high pay and inflation.

According to Sky News, a Downing Street spokesperson said the Government “remains committed” to the triple lock, but refused to say if the 8.5% average earnings figure would be applied next year. "All those decisions on uprating are taken on a later date, later this year,” the official said. “I can't pre-empt that work."

Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World At One, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride hinted that pensioners may not get the 8.5% rise.

He said: "There clearly is a difference if you take into account the non-consolidated elements of pay in recent times, but these are all decisions that I have to take with the Chancellor as part of a very clear process, a statutory process actually, that I go through in the autumn.

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Date published 24 Oct 2023 | Last updated 20 Mar 2024

Dan Martin

Dan is a freelance journalist and event host who writes content for TaxAssist Accountants. With 20 years of experience, he has interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind the newest start-ups. Dan was previously Head of Content at small business membership organisation Enterprise Nation.

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