What should investors make of the Autumn Statement?
The Chancellor was able to score these political points as a result of the strength of the UK economy. His borrowing forecasts have been boosted by an increase in the projected rate of growth in 2016, lower inflation (resulting in savings on inflation-linked spending) and interest rates expected to stay lower for longer, which reduces the burden of debt interest. In addition the Chancellor will raise revenues from the levy on large employers for apprenticeships, and a higher rate of stamp duty on second homes and buy to let properties.
For investors there was an absence of any new announcements, with no further update on the consultation on pensions and the tax treatment of contributions and withdrawals. The Government will respond to that consultation in the 2016 Budget. Following the large increase in the ISA allowance last year and low inflation, it is unsurprising that the allowances will be held flat in 2016/17.
However if investors are looking for investment ideas, the businesses likely to be winners as a result of the Autumn Statement will be housebuilders, those serving the energy sector, those serving the health sector and those providing education services – all will be boosted by the measures announced today.
In summary, investors in UK plc should be cheered by the stronger performance of the UK economy, with a recent ONS report suggesting 30% of the share capital of AIM quoted businesses which are predominantly UK based are owned by UK personal investors. If looking for specific investment ideas they should focus on those sectors where the Government will be seeking to boost growth by increasing spending.
Richard Stone is chief executive of The Share Centre