Our response to the Autumn Statement

by InvestEngine

Today, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, gave his Autumn Statement to the House of Commons. This year’s statement focused primarily on the individual tax burden, economic growth and the reduction in inflation seen over the last few months. 

Among these wider points, however, were some important details for investors to be aware of. Here, we’ll highlight the points that investors should be aware of as we head into 2024, as well as our response to the speech. 

Key takeaways for investors

Key point: One headline announcement was the decision to freeze the annual ISA allowance at £20,000 for another year. 

Our response: We’re glad to see the Chancellor maintaining the ISA limit. Many struggle to reach the current limit and increasing it only fuels the perception that ISAs are for the most well-off in society. They should instead be seen as the easiest way for people to save and invest for their future.

Key point: Another key decision is that of allowing certain fractional shares to be held within ISA wrappers – a decision investors had been awaiting keenly. 

Our response: We strongly believe fractional shares not only make investing more accessible, but facilitate easy, automated long-term investing for all investors, especially those just getting started. Which was why, in October, we wrote to the Chancellor asking him to confirm the tax efficient status of fractional shares in the Autumn Statement. We are, therefore, cautiously optimistic to see the Chancellor announce the ISA-compliant status of certain fractional shares today.

We await clarity on the details of the announcement, but confirming their ISA-compliant status will ensure that investing remains accessible for millions of people in the UK, and this decision also helps support the government’s goal of helping more people to invest and achieve a more secure future later in life.

Key point: Investors will be allowed to pay into more than one of each type of ISA per tax year from April 2024, where previously this was limited to one of each type. So an investor could, for example, pay into multiple stocks and shares ISAs, with different providers, in the same tax year. Partial transfers will also be allowed. 

Our response: For too long, the restrictions on opening and funding just one type of ISA per year has meant that many people putting money into cash ISAs are stuck with poor interest rates. Similarly, those investing in a stocks and shares ISA can be hit with high and uncompetitive fees, with no way of avoiding these until the end of the tax year or by sacrificing their ISA allowance.

Bringing more flexibility to the ISA regime will foster much needed competition in the market. Individuals with stocks and shares accounts will now be able to move their funds to new providers that offer lower or zero fees on accounts, all while protecting the tax-free status of their funds and ensuring that they can make their money go further. 

Key point: Jeremy Hunt also announced the ability for workers to nominate a pot for their workplace pension to be paid into. The ‘pot for life’ will enable workers to move from job to job while ensuring one main pension pot is being paid into. 

Our response: InvestEngine believes strongly in empowering individual investors, and introducing a ‘pot for life’ furthers this goal by giving investors additional flexibility when assessing their pension options. Many workplace pension schemes are opaque, difficult to access, and carry high investment fees. 

Allowing investors to nominate their own pension scheme will give them the ability to choose from the increasing number of low-cost, accessible, and transparent pension providers, improving their options for retirement savings. 

Image credit: HM Treasury

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