AUTUMN STATEMENT 2013: MEASURES FOR A ‘RESPONSIBLE RECOVERY’
Delivering the Autumn Statement 2013, Chancellor George Osborne said the latest economic data showed that the ‘plan is working’. He said the biggest threat to securing the economy for the long term would be abandoning the plan, before setting out measures aimed at providing a ‘responsible recovery’.
In stark contrast to the March 2013 Budget, the Office for Budget Responsibility upgraded its forecast for growth in 2013. It expects GDP to grow by 1.4 per cent this year, more than double its March estimate of 0.6 per cent. It also expects an additional 400,000 new jobs to be created this year and for unemployment to fall to seven per cent in 2015.
A two per cent cap on next year’s increase in business rates was confirmed. The doubling of the Small Business Rate Relief, to 100 per cent for qualifying businesses, was also extended by a year until April 2015. From 1 April 2014, businesses will be able to pay their rates over 12 months. And employer national insurance contributions for employees under the age of 21 will be abolished from April 2015.
The planned fuel duty increase for September 2014 has been scrapped. Train fares will increase in January in line with RPI inflation only – not by the usual RPI plus one per cent. And basic rate taxpayers will be able to transfer GBP 1,000 of their personal allowance to a spouse or civil partner from 2015/16.
From September 2014, all schoolchildren in reception, year one and year two – as well as disadvantaged students in sixth form colleges – will be eligible for free school meals. And the paper tax disc will be replaced by a new digital system from October 2014.