The Autumn Statement, November 2023

On 22nd November 2023 the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced his Autumn Statement in the House of Commons, and published supporting documents.

This Statement was also supported by The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) - the independent watchdog for the use of public monies - who also published updated forecasts
for the UK’s economic and financial outlook.

It is said this Statement came amid growth of the UK economy being weak since early last year, with high inflation and rising interest rates not only putting a strain on household budgets, but consumer and business spending as well.

In response to this, the Chancellor proposed that announcements made in The Autumn Statement were not to put in place Big Government spending or any further high taxation.

Instead, The Autumn Statement was designed to set out plans that supports British business and reward hard work.

Below are some of the highlights from the Autumn Statement:

Growth and Personal Tax
The Chancellor confirmed that the Government had honoured its goal of halving inflation, and so declared they were able to start cutting taxes and give more help with the Cost of Living.

Inflation – the rate that measures the rise in consumer prices – had dropped to below 5% in October 2023, where it was over 11% at the same time the year before.

It was announced during The Statement that while the economy is growing slower year on year, it is now larger than it was before the Pandemic and will continue to grow.

And so, as part of the tax cuts from the Chancellor, it was announced that as of January 2024, qualifying National Insurance Contributions (NIC) are to be cut from 12% down to 10%.

It was also announced that tax on alcohol will stay as it is till August next year, however tax on tobacco is going up.

Wages and Benefits
The Chancellor announced the Government will be making the biggest set of welfare reforms to date.

It was confirmed they will increase the National Living Wage to £11.44 from April 2024; and this increase will also be extended to 21-year-olds.

It was also announced Benefits will increase by 6.7%: This will be applied to benefits such as Universal Credit, and disability benefits.

However, it was stated there would be tougher requirements for those who claim them to look for work.

Honouring their commitment to The Triple Lock, The Government will increase state pensions by 8.5%; raising weekly payments for the elderly to over £220 per week, worth almost an extra £900 a year.

And Local Housing Allowance rates, which determines the level of housing benefit that people receive to pay rent, will now go up from April 2024; offering a further £800 for some households next year.

Business Tax and Support
With the aim of making the UK an AI Powerhouse, The Chancellor announced a further £500 Million is to be invested for innovation centres similar to those found at Bristol and Edinburgh.

The Full Expensing Scheme, as mentioned in the 2023 Spring Budget, was a temporary plan which allowed businesses to remove their spending on new equipment and machinery from their profits.

The Chancellor declared this scheme will now be permanent - allowing companies to write off their entire cost of spending on new machinery and equipment against the tax they normally pay.

The Chancellor will also be reforming taxes paid by self-employed people, and there are to be business rate discounts for hospitality, retail and leisure worth over £4 Billion.

Economy (Levelling Up)
The Chancellor will be investing an extra £4.5 Billion into UK manufacturing starting in 2025, as well as nearly £1 Billion going to aerospace businesses working on green technologies.

It was also announce there are to be three investment zones created in West Midlands, East Midlands and in Greater Manchester; with a second investment zone to be set up in Wales.

Other highlights from The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement included a pledge to provide monies to tackle antisemitism, and subsidies for people living close to new electricity pylons.

At the time of writing there was no indication of any new funding announcements for healthcare.

Reaction from the Charity Sector

MVA have collated some early responses to The Statement from across the sector nationally:

The opinion from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) was that The Statement was a ‘blow for charities’.

Whilst they recognised its aim was to focus on economic growth, they were disappointed there was nothing to help grow or stabilise the Voluntary Sector.

The Charity Tax Group (CTG) also expressed disappointment, observing the Government’s general lack of acknowledgement of charities that are struggling to maintain the services on which many depend.

The Charity Finance Group (CFG), in their full review of The Statement, expressed concerns at the Government’s plans on the unemployed; especially those with long-term sickness or disability.

But the disability equality charity Scope centred on this, almost condemning the plans as a missed opportunity to set out how disabled people can thrive, instead of survive.

National mental health charity MIND agreed, citing The Statement as a backwards step for the UK, which people with mental health problems will feel sharply.

Charity think tank Pro Bono Economics (PBE) cited The Statement made large parts of the nation’s public services face a renewed period of austerity, where the Charity Sector would once again have to step up to support the less fortunate.

National membership network Locality concluded to unlock the potential of people across the country or solve the underlying issues in society, the Chancellor should lead on a community power revolution instead of headline grabbing announcements on taxes and benefits

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIoF) said whilst there was positive action to fight antisemitism, support apprenticeships and boost levelling up, the Government need to understand that charities play an integral role in helping them reach its goals and build a stronger economy.

For more information, or to read The Autumn Statement in full, visit the UK Government website.

MVA continues its efforts to provide reliable and trustworthy guidance and advice during these challenging times for us all.

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