The Conservative Party’s summary of the Autumn Statement is as follows.
Backing business all the way:
- Local businesses will benefit from a cap on business rate rises and an extension of rate relief. The increase in business rates next year will be capped at 2 per cent – businesses were expecting a rise of 3.2 per cent. We are also extending and expanding the doubling of small business rate relief, making more businesses eligible for it and keeping it up to April 2015.
- We’re helping the high street with a £1,000 business rates discount and a reoccupation relief. Shops, pubs, cafes and restaurants will all get a £1,000 discount on their business rates bills for the next two years – those with bills less than £1,000 will pay no rates at all. We’re also helping to revive high streets by halving the rates businesses will pay for 18 months when they move into retail properties that have been closed for a year or more.
- We’re making it easier to employ young people by abolishing the jobs tax on under 21s. From April 2015 employers will pay no national insurance on under 21 year olds earning less than £813 per week – the threshold for paying higher rate tax. This will save employers more than £1,000 for every under 21 they employ earning £16,000 a year.
Helping hardworking people:
- Motorists will save even more on petrol as the freeze on fuel duty is extended further. Labour’s planned increase in fuel duty for 2014 has been cancelled. That means fuel duty will have been frozen for nearly four and a half years. Fuel will be 20 pence per litre lower than it would have been under the Labour’s plans, saving a typical motorist £11 each time they fill up their tank.
- Freezing rail fare increases for hardworking commuters. The average rise in regulated rail fares in 2014 will be capped at inflation. This will benefit more than a quarter of a million annual season ticket holders.
- Families will save an average of £50 on their energy bills. We’re reducing the effect of government policies on energy bills and bringing in a rebate on electricity bills. In total households will save an average of £50 on their energy bills.
- Recognising marriage in the tax system. From 2015/16 married couples, where neither pay the higher rate of tax, will be able to transfer £1,000 of their personal allowances – saving them up to £200.
Taking difficult decisions to secure Britain’s finances:
- Total welfare spending will be capped so it is always kept under control. We’re capping the amount that can be spent on welfare in future. This will not include spending on the Basic State Pension.
- Running a surplus in the good years so we fix the roof while the sun is shining. MPs will vote on a new Charter for Budget Responsibility in December 2014. This will include plans to run a surplus in the good years, reduce the national debt, and look at a shorter and more binding fiscal mandate.
- Setting the principle for the state pension age. The Pensions Bill, currently in Parliament, will put in place reviews of the pension age every five years. The Autumn Statement sets out the principle of those reviews – that people should spend up to a third of their adult life in retirement. It suggests an increase to 68 in the mid 2030s. Future taxpayers will save around £500 billion.