Autumn Statement digested: 10 things you really need to know

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25/11/2015
The Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement today in front of a packed House of Commons. Here are 10 takeaways:

Tax credit cuts scrapped

The Chancellor announced a huge u-turn on his highly controversial cuts to tax credits.

Around four million low income families in the UK claim these tax credits and each would have suffered a loss of over £1,000 a year from next April had Osborne’s plans seen the light of day.

The Chancellor said an improvement in the country’s public finances meant he could avoid the cuts altogether.

Buy-to-let landlords squeezed further

From 1 April 2016 the Chancellor will introduce higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase of additional residential properties that cost more than £40,000.

The additional rate will be 3% on top of the normal stamp duty applicable on property sales.

This will affect buy-to-let landlords and those with second homes.

In other property-related news, capital gains tax on residential property will now have to be paid within 30 days of any taxable house sale from April 2019.

Londoners get their own Help to Buy scheme

To address the housing crisis in the capital, Londoners with a 5% deposit will be able to get an interest-free loan worth up to 40% of the value of a newly-built home.

The new scheme will launch next April and the government plans to consult on the details.

Retirees receive bigger state pensions

The starting amount for the new single tier state pension coming in next April will be £155.65. It follows the announcement last weekend that the basic state pension for existing pensioners will increase by 2.9% next April to £119.30.

Money injection for housing market

The Chancellor has doubled the housing budget and pledged to build 400,000 affordable new homes by the end of the decade. He said almost half of these homes would be starter homes sold at 20% off the market value to young first-time buyers.

Motor insurance premiums should go down

To make it harder for people to claim compensation for exaggerated or fraudulent whiplash claims, the government is ending the right to cash compensation.

More injuries will also be able to go to the small claims court as the upper limit for these claims will be increased from £1,000 to £5,000.

The reforms should save insurers over £1bn and Osborne expects them to pass on this saving to motorists, who should see their bills fall by between £40 and £50 a year.

Digital tax accounts for all

As part of the government’s pledge to make HMRC “one of the most digitally advanced tax administrations in the world”, all individuals and small businesses will have personalised, digital tax accounts by the end of the 2016-17 tax year.

By 2020, the government will require most businesses, self-employed people and landlords to keep track of their tax affairs digitally and update HMRC at least quarterly via their digital tax account.

Part time season tickets for commuters

New flexible season tickets will soon be available on certain rail lines across the country, including C2C between London and Essex, and the Great Northern Route on Thameslink. This means that commuters will be able to buy part time season tickets, if they wish.

Commuters will also soon be able to claim compensation from their rail tickets if their train is more than 15 minutes late.

Tampon tax money to go to charities

Around £15m in VAT is collected each year on sanitary products. Under EU rules the government cannot remove all VAT on sanitary products, but it has said it will set up an annual fund equivalent to the yearly value of this tax.

The fund will be donated to women’s charities until the UK can remove the tax from sanitary products.

Museums and galleries to remain free

Funding for museums and galleries will be maintained so they remain free to the public. To build on the success of the London Olympics and Paralympics in 2012, funding to the UK’s top athletes will be increased by 29% to support Team GB at Rio 2016 and Tokyo 2020.

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