Budget 2015

Well it's that time of year again. We have kept a close eye on this year's budget and to be honest, in light of the close proximity of the election, didn't expect many surprises!

So, surprisingly, there were none. The Personal Allowance will gradually increase so that it reaches £11,000 by 2017/18, with the basic rate personal tax allowance also increasing to reach £43,300 by 2017/18. A new savings allowance will be introduced for the first £1,000 of interest and as technology improves, paper tax returns will shortly become things of the past.

From an industry point of view, it was disappointing that the Chancellor has decided to reduce the pension lifetime allowance to £1m. There are already many changes affecting those coming to retirement without this as another complication! This has been somehow counteracted by the news that those already in annuity contracts will have greater flexibility. How the providers of these contracts cope with these new rules, will have to be seen.

Perhaps a clue to future changes was the indication that 'Deeds of Variation' will be coming under review with the aim of preventing inheritance tax avoidance.

One welcome change will be the greater flexibility of NISAs (previously individual savings accounts). Savers will be able to withdraw and replace funds in the same tax year without losing the valuable tax shelter.

Really this year's Budget was an opportunity to communicate the economic progress that we have made as a country. With unemployment falling and growth stable, it may be welcome news to hope that the 'period of austerity' will come to an end within the next 4/5 years.