Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, has made his Autumn Statement, setting out thegovernment’s plan for sustainable public finances, supporting people and businesses while ensuring national debt is falling over the medium term.
These measures are announced in the context of high inflation caused by global pressures from the Covid-19 pandemic and Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine.
The Energy Price Guarantee, which is protecting households throughout this winter by capping a typical home’s energy bills at £2,500, will continue to from April 2023 with the cap rising to £3,000.
With prices forecast to remain elevated throughout next year, this equates to an average of £500 less for households in 2023-24.
Support for non-domestic users will continue until 31 March 2023, after which support will be targeted to those most vulnerable.
For those residents not using on-grid gas for heating, the previously announced £100 for alternative fuels such as heating oil, coal, LPG or biomass, has been doubled to £200 and will be delivered as soon as possible this winter.
There will also be a fixed payment of £150 to non-domestic consumers who use alternative fuels, with additional 'top-up' payments for large users of heating oil.
Contrary to scaremongering reports to the contrary, the Chancellor confirmed that the pensions triple-lock would be retained – meaning an inflation-based increase of 10.1% on state pensions from April 2023.
It was also confirmed that universal credit payments would increase by the same inflation-based amount.
Over 8 million of the most vulnerable households across the UK will continue to be supported through next winter via additional Cost of Living Payments from April 2023:
Households on means-tested benefits will get £900, disability benefit recipients £150 and pensioner households £300.
The government remains committed to tackling low pay.
From 1 April 2023, the National Living Wage (NLW) will increase by 9.7% to £10.42 an hour for workers aged 23 and over.
This increase represents an increase of over £1,600 to the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the NLW and is expected to benefit around 160,000 workers in Scotland.
This is in addition to the previously announced reversal of the Health and Social Care Levy which will have saved the average worker £310 in 2023-24.
I welcome the announcement that Levelling Up Funding has been protected, with at least £1.7 billion to be allocated for the pending Round 2 bids.
To raise further funds and to stabilise the economy, the Chancellor has introduced tax rises of £25 billion by 2027-28.
Based around the principle of fairness, all taxpayers will be asked to contribute but those with the broadest shoulders will be asked to contribute a greater share.
For example, the threshold at which higher earners start to pay the 45p rate will be reduced from £150,000 to £125,140, while Income Tax, Inheritance Tax and National Insurance thresholds will be frozen until April 2028.
And, from 1 January 2023, the Energy Profits Levy on oil and gas companies will increase from 25% to 35% - but with an ongoing investment allowance incentive attached.
Due to other spending commitments by the UK Government on public services – such as health, social care and education in England – The Scottish Government will receive an additional £1.5 billion over 2023-24 and 2024-25 in Barnett consequentials
Time will tell how the SNP/Green coalition will choose how to pass that on in Scotland.