Autumn Statement 2023: what happened

The government has delivered its Autumn Statement. Our Head of Personal Finance, Brian Byrnes, explains the headline stories, so you know which changes could affect you and your personal finances.

 

ISA simplification

Changes to some ISA rules were announced in the Autumn Statement. Despite the rumours, the annual tax-free allowances for the Cash ISA and Stocks & Shares ISA remained unchanged at £20,000, as did the allowance for the Lifetime ISA (£4,000) and the Junior ISA (£9,000).

Here are the main ISA changes that were announced.

Paying into more than one of the same type of ISA each tax year

From April 2024, ISA customers can pay into more than one of each ISA type in a tax year. Previously, the rule was that you could only contribute into one type of each ISA in a tax year. This change gives ISA customers greater flexibility over where and how they choose to build their wealth.

Fractional shares

The proposal to allow investment in fractional shares within an ISA is also welcome news. For too long, the investing industry was built to serve the wealthy. Fractional shares, which require less money to buy, help ensure that investing remains available to all, democratising the world of investment and an important, positive step forward for more people.

We haven’t had much detail on this yet, but the government has said that it will engage with stakeholders on how best to implement this change – and we’ll aim to be a part of those conversations.

A note on the Lifetime ISA

As the largest provider of Lifetime ISAs in the UK, we are extremely disappointed that so little has been done to support the next generation of home-buyers in the Autumn Statement.

While 90% of Moneybox Lifetime ISA customers who’ve bought their first home paid less than £404,000, if the price cap had risen in line with house prices since 2017 it would stand at £560,000 today.

We will continue to work closely with policymakers in the coming months, campaigning to ensure Lifetime ISA product rules are reviewed and the product continues to be fit for purpose for all those who need it most, into the future.

 

Pensions

In the world of pensions, the headline announcement was the continuation of the triple lock into the next financial year. The triple lock system means that the state pension increases each April in line with the previous September’s inflation figure, average wage growth in the UK, or a flat 2.5% – whichever is higher.

It was introduced in 2010 and it’s designed to ensure that the value of the state pension isn’t overtaken or diminished by an increase in the cost of living, or the working population’s income. Wage growth was highest this year at 8.5%, which means that state pensions will rise by 8.5% next financial year.

The government will also open the doors to a consultation on a ‘pension pot for life’. The intention is to give workers the right to require new employers to pay their pension contributions into an existing pot in the future.

 

Tax changes

Now we move to tax, where the government announced some changes to National Insurance including cuts for both employees and the self-employed.

National Insurance cuts

National Insurance helps to pay for things like state benefits, the NHS, the state pension, and social care.

The Chancellor announced a 2% cut to employee National Insurance from 12% to 10%, which means that someone earning £35,400 will save around £450 a year. This change will be implemented from 6 January 2024, and it’ll benefit around 27 million people.

The Chancellor also announced changes for self-employed National Insurance. Class 2 National Insurance will be abolished for all self-employed people, and Class 4 National Insurance – which was at 9% – will be cut to 8% from April 2024. This change will save around 2 million self-employed people an average £350 a year from April 2024.