The first Autumn Budget for many years is over. And while laced with jokes and jibes, it brought few other surprises.
Chancellor Philip Hammond seemed relaxed and at home in his annual primetime slot. He announced very little that was ground-breaking. Instead, opting for a steady mix of measures from across the board.
Here are a few highlights…
The economy as a whole didn’t fare too well, with growth forecast for 2017 downgraded from 2% to 1.5%, and not rising again to 1.6% until 2021.
For the younger generation, a so-called ‘millennial railcard’ is to be introduced offering discounted fares for those aged 26-30. Alongside the abolition of stamp duty with immediate effect for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000.
For those in work, the tax-free personal allowance will rise to £11,850 in April 2018 as will the higher-rate tax threshold which will increase to £46,350.
Businesses of all sizes will welcome the fact that rises in business rates will now be linked to the preferred CPI (consumer price index) not RPI (retail price index). And small businesses will breathe a sigh of relief that the current VAT threshold of £85,000 will remain for two years, following rumours it could be dropped to as low as £20,000.
With a nod to technology and the future, the government has pledged £500m for 5G mobile networks, fibre broadband and artificial intelligence, and £540m to support the growth of electric cars. The chancellor also announced an additional £2.3bn for investment in research and development.
And as we enter the season of goodwill, while the price of cigarettes will go up, the cost of fuel, wine and beer has been frozen again. Cheers Phil and Merry Christmas!