Autumn Statement: What it means for you
- 5 December 2013
- From the section Business
Chancellor George Osborne has delivered his Autumn Statement, describing it as a plan to deliver a "responsible recovery".
He outlined a brighter economic climate than a year ago, but said "difficult decisions" still needed to be made.
He took the opportunity to announce eye-catching plans about the state pension and taxes on small businesses.
A number of measures had already been announced, including some during the Budget in March and others at the party conferences.
So what does the chancellor's latest statement mean for you?
Did I hear that he is making us work for longer?
Not everyone; people in their 20s, 30s and 40s might have to work for longer before they get their state pension, in line with improving life expectancy.
The state pension age is already rising to 66 by 2020 and 67 by 2028. It was then expected to go up to 68 between 2044 and 2046.
Now that rise to 68 is going to come in earlier - in the mid-2030s - meaning that millions more people will retire later.
Subsequently, the state pension age will rise in line with longevity, so those in their 30s will probably work to 69 and those in their 20s will probably work to the age of 70. This will be decided by an independent panel, which we already knew would be set up by the next Parliament.
Any news for existing pensioners?
As expected, there will be a rise of 2.7% in the state pension in April, or £2.95 a week.
Under the government's triple-lock system, the state pension increase is the highest of CPI inflation in September, average wage rises, or 2.5%. This year, CPI inflation was the highest of the trio.
They will also be able to make additional, voluntary National Insurance contributions, if they had gaps in their working life, to ensure they get more state pension.
What about other benefits?
We already know that a number of benefits will only rise by 1% next April, lower than the rising cost of living.
The chancellor also announced a cap on welfare spending would be set in 2014 and start in 2015. It will exclude the state pension and jobseeker's allowance.
This cap would be set by the chancellor of the day at the start of every Parliament, he said.
What else was in it for families?
Mr Osborne confirmed plans for free school meals for infants.
He repeated the plan for a tax break for about four million married couples. Some £1,000 of personal allowance (the amount people earn before paying income tax) could be transferred from one spouse to another, assuming neither is a higher-rate taxpayer and one is earning less than the personal allowance.
He also confirmed that energy bills would not rise as much as expected with a change to green levies - a plan that Labour described as a "smoke and mirrors deal" with the energy companies.
The chancellor often has news for drivers in these statements. What about this time?
Yes, it was on his list again.
It has become relatively standard for the chancellor to cancel planned fuel duty increases.
The next fuel duty rise was scheduled for September 2014, but this will be cancelled, saving drivers two pence a litre.
He also said that the tax disc to show motorists have paid vehicle excise duty is to be replaced with an electronic system.
The disc was introduced in 1921, but from October next year, drivers will be able to pay by monthly direct debit rather than with a payment every year or six months.
What if I don't drive?
Some train fares in England will go up in line with the cost of living. A previous plan to put them up by 1% above the RPI measure of inflation has been cancelled.
That means regulated rail fares for January will now go up by 3.1% on average, not 4.1%.
However, some flexibility remains for train operators. Consequently, the maximum fare rise next month will now be 5.1% rather than 6.1%.
He did not make any announcement about fares in 2015.
He said a lot about the housing market in the Budget. Did he have any more to say?
He made one announcement that is aimed at making it fairer for buyers in competition with overseas investors in property.
People living overseas will have to pay Capital Gains Tax (CGT) for future gains on second homes bought in the UK from April 2015. At present, they do not pay CGT in this way, unlike UK residents.
For UK residents, the last three years before selling a second home is disregarded when it comes to calculating a CGT bill at present. However, that period will now cut to 18 months, assuming they once lived in the property.
He also said there would be £1bn of loans made to "unblock" large housing developments.
Tenants in social housing will get priority if they are moving for a job.
What was the news for people who own and work for small businesses?
As widely predicted, the chancellor said business rate rises would be limited to 2% in England next year instead of being linked to inflation.
Business rate relief for small firms will be extended until April 2015.
There is also a two-year plan for a discount on business rates for some small traders on the High Street.
Employers will also get a break from National Insurance contributions when employing younger workers. At present it kicks in at the age of 16, but it will now be delayed to 21.
This will be one of the most expensive measures for the Treasury, costing £465m in 2015-16.
Did he mention any changes we knew already that will affect our personal finances?
Most chancellors do, and there was again some repetition. Many changes for April 2014 had been announced already.