Well the mini-budget was certainly a fiscal event. You have probably been inundated with commentary, but we will attempt to summarise it for you.

Globally a shift is taking place as we transition from an era of disinflation to a world of inflation and therefore higher interest rates. At the same time the picture is complicated by supply chains being modified to compensate for geopolitical challenges. Central banks only really have one weapon and that is raising rates to remove liquidity from the markets.
The government wants to stimulate growth. It has already announced the Energy Price Guarantee (EPG), capping the unit price for households and the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for non-domestic energy customers.
It is also trying to put more money in our back pockets with the following:

  • The Health and Social Care Levy Act provided a temporary increase in National Insurance contributions (NIC). This has been reversed and will come into effect on 6 November 2022.
  • The reduction in income tax to 19% from 20% scheduled for April 2024 has been brought forward to April 2023.
  • The residential nil rate tax threshold (stamp duty) is increased to £250,000 from £125,000 and for first time buyers £425,000 (£625,000 max) from £300,000.
  • The dividend ordinary rate will be reduced back down to 7.5% and the upper rate back down to 32.5% from April 2023.
  • Corporation tax will not rise and will stay at 19%.
  • The Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) will not be reduced in April 2023.
  • Investment Zones to be established and Enterprise Investment Schemes expanded.
  • If you have been affected by the change in IR35 this has also been reversed.

However, the Chancellor did not handle the announcements well. He started by dismissing the Permanent Secretary to the Treasury. The Office of Tax Simplification will be closed. He also did not ask the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) to review the announcements (therefore it is not really a budget) and then announced that there were ‘more cuts to come’.

The markets did not like the uncertainty and promptly sold Sterling and increased the cost of government borrowing by selling UK government bonds (gilts).  This then affected the defined benefit pension industry as the cost of liability matching pensions using derivatives increased. The pension industry then needed to increase the amount of capital (margin) to pay for the increase. This created a vicious recursive circle. The Bank of England (BoE) then stepped in to prop up the gilts market.

Going forward, the BoE only increased the bank rate by 0.5% to 2.25% on 22 September 2022. The next meetings are on 3 November and 15 December. There is a high probability that rates will go up on both dates. This will of course affect mortgage rates and if you are worried give Alastair a call in the office.

It looks like the Chancellor will be trying to balance the books. Simon Clarke, the new levelling up secretary has written to Whitehall departments asking them to ‘trim the fat’ and tackle the ‘very large welfare state’.

The Government’s strategy seems to be based on ‘Reaganomics’ from the 1980s. There will be more volatility in the markets for the foreseeable future; however this is normal market mechanics adjusting to the new regime. We are coming into the Q3 earning season but our companies will be able to pass through the increase in input costs from the energy rises feeding inflation price rises.

The perfect storm

UK inflation accelerated to 9% the highest level since 1982. The unemployment rate fell to 3.7% the lowest since 1974, with job vacancies exceeding the number of jobless for the first time on record. However,  UK consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level in nearly 50 years.

Autumn Budget 2021

The chancellor focused on the post covid recovery and did not tinker much with pensions and investments.

The key measure that we already knew about was the 1.25% increase to National Insurance and Dividend rates which will come into effect in April 2022. Due to Government IT constraints it will initially be collected via NI and in April 2023 it will be a separate tax called the ‘health and social care Levy’.

This Levy will be applied if your pay is above the primary earnings threshold of £9,568. You are caught if you pay yourself dividends above £2,000, and if you are working above the State Pension age.

Therefore the dividend ordinary rate, upper rate and additional rate will increase to 8.75%, 33.75% and 39.35% respectively.

For business owners the employer NI will also rise 1.25% to 15.05%. As corporation tax will rise in April 2023 it would be prudent to talk to your accountant to bring forward profits if possible.

Key allowances have not changed:

  • High rate income tax band starts at £37,700 + £12,570 = £50,270
  • Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount is £12,300
  • ISA annual subscription limit is maintained at £20,000 and JISAs £9,000

US – Infrastructure

The US Senate passed a roughly USD 1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, including about USD 550 billion in new spending. This is aimed at rebuilding traditional transportation infrastructure, improve access to broadband internet in rural areas and upgrade the electric grid and water systems. The Senate Democrats also approved a USD 3.5 trillion budget resolution.

China – regulation

China released a five-year blueprint calling for increased regulation affecting key parts of the economy. The document signalled Beijing’s intention to draft new laws covering national security, technology, monopolies and education. In the technology sector, new legislation will cover areas such as online finance, artificial intelligence, big data and cloud computing. 

ECB revises forward guidance

The European Central Bank (ECB) revised its forward guidance, indicating it would keep interest rates “at their present or lower levels until it sees inflation reaching 2% well ahead of the end of its projection horizon and durably for the rest of the projection horizon, and it judges that realised progress in underlying inflation is sufficiently advanced to be consistent with inflation stabilising at 2% over the medium term.” The ECB indicated that this process could involve a short period in which inflation goes moderately above this target. 

Inflation bubbling up

Consumer prices in America rose 5.4%, well above expectations. There are a small number of huge price rises, such as used cars, whereas the median price change is far lower.

In the UK CPI rose 2.5%. The Office for National Statistics cited increased prices for food, fuel, second-hand cars, clothing and footwear as key factors.

Inflation fears

Last month America’s consumer prices inflation rate rose to 4.2% from 2.6% and this is before the full effects of the Biden stimulus plans take affect. Eurozone inflation accelerated to 1.6% year-on-year in April, up from 1.3% in March, following a sharp rise in the cost of energy compared to the height of the pandemic. UK annual inflation meanwhile more than doubled in April to 1.5% from 0.7% in March, although both remain below central bank target rates of 2% for now.