Previewing the Autumn Statement with Charlotte Black

In anticipation of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, Newgate has asked a panel of experts what they hope to hear from Philip Hammond.


Charlotte Black, Independent Public Affairs Consultant and Former Head of Corporate Affairs at Brewin Dolphin

Maintaining business and market confidence is the essential challenge for Chancellor Philip Hammond. Bespoke deals of the sort announced last month for Nissan should be avoided.

I would caution against touching pensions – we need a pause. There is already too much uncertainty that could halt saving, whilst pension freedoms require further time to bed in. There is also little to be gained from shifting incentives to the younger generation, as has been mooted – they have nothing to save! The Chancellor could, however, encourage skipping a generation and reduce Inheritance Tax on assets passed to grandchildren – a move which would prove a major fillip to rebalancing assets between the old and the young.

Speaking of the youth of this country, it would be wise to reform the student loan regime in England. Indebtedness is projected for decades and in any case few are paying them off. Saddling our youth with debt is simply deterring many bright and able students from pursuing opportunities in further education – which is no way to address the country’s productivity or competitiveness.

Considering housing, stamp duty is stifling the property market and too much capital is stuck. A liquid property market is an economic stimulus. The Chancellor should consider levying stamp on both sides of the transaction and reversing the latest hikes introduced by George Osborne to reduce the overall stamp duty burden – a sure way of collecting more tax receipts and stimulating ancillary industries.

I am also concerned about the risks of unauthorised financial guidance – as proposed in HMT’s recent Redefining Advice consultation. I would very much welcome a commitment from the Chancellor to introduce some form of registration for financial guidance providers and a requirement for them to display warnings.

Finally, I would be wary of packing our company boardrooms with employees. In that regard, the Prime Minister’s apparent change of heart on this issue in her speech to the CBI on Monday is a welcome development. I hope the Autumn Statement will give us a hint of the Government’s new thinking and consider alternative facilities for many savers and investors to cast advisory votes.


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