City A.M.'s bumper Autumn Statement preview

As chancellor George Osborne gets set to unveil this year's Autumn statement on Thursday, we've pulled together all the expected announcements, and what others are hoping for.

Ladbrokes have 11/5 odds on the speech to run for 45 to 50 minutes (it's scheduled to start at 11.15am). You'll get 6/4 odds on the speech running for less than 45, and you can also place a bet at 6/4 on Osborne running over 50.

We'll keep this post updated as the event approaches.

Growth & Deficit

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) is expected to reveal that Osborne is ahead of previous forecasts on cutting the deficit. Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight says that borrowing may come in at £105bn for 2013, rather than the £120bn forecast nine months ago.

Roger Bootle of Capital Economics says that the "big picture is that the fiscal consolidation still has a long way to go."

Given stronger than expected growth this year (Goldman Sachs explain why this was such a surprise) the OBR is likely to announce that it's revising up its March economic growth forecast for 2013 from 0.6 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

According to a Treasury paper, the link between that growth and pay hasn't broken down - if measured as total employee compensation. Take home pay however, has been reduced since the crisis by increasing employers' social contributions.


Improvements to the fiscal position give Osborne some wiggle room to reduce the UK's tax burden. Dominic Raab, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, argues that the Tories must promise to reduce that burden by 2020.

Speaking during a trip to China, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that there would be no tax cuts until the deficit had been significantly reduced - "I know that the first duty of government is to safeguard our economy and your economy isn’t safeguarded properly until you deal with your deficit."

Despite that, EY's Item Club expect Osborne's giveaways to run to around £3bn.

Income Tax

Prime candidates include an increase to the income tax threshold. The amount we've been getting tax free has been allowed to fall as a proportion of average earnings far too often. Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has indicated that he wants this moved up from £9,440 per year to £10,500.

The Institute of Directors would like to see the basic tax rate band moved higher to £41,151, or less than twice median earnings, to remove many earners from the 40 per cent income tax rate. They would also like to see the 45 per cent rate removed entirely, from which relatively little is collected.

The Taxpayers' Alliance suggest that Osborne should merge national insurance and income tax, easing the administrative burden and making the system more transparent.

Fuel Duty Freeze

We know that fuel duty will be frozen, Osborne plans to do this until the 2015 election.

Capital Gains Tax

Osborne may consider hitting overseas investors with capital gains tax on the sale of UK property. The Treasury have said that that's just "speculation", but they've not actually ruled it out. Deloitte say that such a measure would bring with it a number of technical issues.

The Institute of Directors are pushing for a capital gains tax reduction - as the present 28 per cent rate is higher than the 18 per cent rate introduced by the chancellor's predecessor.

Stamp Duty

The chancellor could extend the upper limit of the one per cent stamp duty bracket from properties worth £250,000 up to £300,000.

The Taxpayers' Alliance want Osborne to reform stamp duty, changing it from a slab rate to a marginal tax.

At present you'll pay one per cent stamp duty on the sale of a house worth £250,000. Sell a property for £250,001, entering the higher band, and you'll have to pay three per cent on the whole value of the house, not just the additional pound.

Under a marginal system, you'd pay the three per cent rate on just that extra pound.

Other measures to squeeze high end property owners may also be considered by the chancellor. But such wealth taxes would probably see many flee for friendlier tax environments.

ISA Caps

Osborne may be planning to cap ISA pots, and could restrict the tax-free amount that can be withdrawn from pension schemes.

Dominic O'Connell, head of tax, trust & estate planning at Coutts says that such retrospective, or at least retroactive, measures could "damage public confidence in both the UK's tax system and savings mechanisms."

Pensions economist Ros Altmann has urged the chancellor to increase ISA allowances in order to encourage savings, as an equivalent alternative to a rise in interest rates.

Altmann also suggests that Osborne should loosen ISA rules that prevent people from moving freely between holding cash or stocks and shares. She says that is should also be possible to switch Child Trust Funds into Junior ISAs.

Tax Avoidance

The statement may include an announcement that there will be further measures to crack down on specific loopholes that politicians feel are being abused.

Those would be on top of the already implemented General Anti-Abuse Rule.

Deloitte expect something to be said on international tax system reform, but they don't think he'll announce any unilteral measures. Instead Osborne is more likely to wait on the outcome of the OECD's work in the area.


We know that the state pension age is to rise to 70 after 2050, and will now be set so that people spend no more than one third of their adult lives in receipt of a pension.

Professional service firm BDO suggest that Osborne may find money at low political cost by reducing tax relief on pensions for higher income individuals.

Married Couples Allowance

There could be more details of Prime Minister David Cameron's plans to introduce a tax break for married couplies in 2015. Coutts' O'Connell says that measures aimed at the low paid "should arguably apply across the board".

Inheritance Tax

We should probably expect another delay to Osborne's promise to raise the inheritance tax threshold. The nil band rate is currently sitting at £325,000. That's despite the chancellor proposing an increase to £1m over six years ago.


Employer NI Contributions

BDO say that Osborne may reduce employers' national insurance contributions (often known as the "jobs tax") by means of a rebate or holidays.

Surveys suggest that such a reduction is the number one recommendation from businesses to encourage more hiring.

Business Rates

We know that rate rises will be limited to two per cent in England and Wales in 2014, and won't be linked to inflation.

The Institute of Directors and the Taxpayers' Alliance have called on Osborne to freeze business rates.


We know that the Treasury will reduce annual departmental budgets by an extra £1bn.

But there won't be any to health, education, international development, HMRC, local government or security services.


We know that Osborne has pledged to waive the cost of some green levies, reducing energy bills by some £50. EY's Item Club say that this measure will cost the Treasury around £1bn in foregone tax revenue.

The move has already led to many suppliers promising to reduce domestic bills. But the green policy is not being axed, instead having its costs met by general taxation.

Further cuts to green charges may ease the squeeze on households. And according to Capital Economics they could help to dampen opposition claims of a "cost of living crisis".


We know that the government is to splash out £375bn on planned investment, as announced by chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander.

The move has been hailed as a short-sighted political crowd-pleaser by Tony Travers, visiting professor at the London School of Economics.


Osborne has said that there is more to do on reducing benefit bills. Further plans to reduce government welfare spending may be announced.


We know that tax-free childcare vouchers will be available for working parents from 2015.

We know that primary children between five and seven will be eligible for free school meals.