Now that we have had some time to drill down into some of the finer points of Philip Hammond’s first public event as Chancellor, we have some thoughts on the more positive aspects of the last ever Autumn Statement:
- Our research director, Alex Wild, called for an end to the Autumn Statement in a piece on Conservative Home recently. So the Chancellor’s announcement that he will do just that is welcome news. For too long, the Autumn Statement has been a political tool, rather than a fiscal one. It was used to spend taxpayers’ money on funding projects in marginal seats and help the government of the day. Moving to one fiscal event a year will create stability and reduce meddling.
- The government has not demurred from its plan to raise the income tax personal allowance to £12,500 by 2020. Today they have announced that it will then rise in line with the consumer price index.
- The National Insurance employer and employee thresholds will be aligned, a welcome simplification. This could be a first (albeit tentative) step towards merging income tax and national insurance, as laid out in our Single Income Tax.
- The Chancellor also recommitted to cutting corporation tax to 17 per cent by 2020. Whilst not a new announcement, it is still welcome to see that the Chancellor sees the good that cutting tax can do, especially if President-Elect Trump follows through with his proposed cut to corporation tax.
- The government wants to speed up house building on public sector land and relax restrictions on grant funding. These are the initial announcements on a forthcoming Housing White Paper which could herald more good news.