This week’s budget was always going to be interesting as the first Conservative budget since November 1996.
In many ways, the focus was not on investors this time and more about welfare reform and tweaking the system to “make work pay”.
The most significant measure for us was the change to the Inheritance Tax threshold. Much of our planning is around helping clients pass wealth on to their families. This measure will be very welcome to many people, as it is not hard to fall foul of the current limit, especially in South Lakeland where property prices have always been high in proportion to wages.
Over the years, we have helped hundreds of clients reduce their exposure to IHT. The truth is, in real terms this tax, which at the outset was supposed to be a tax on the wealthy, was increasingly becoming a middle-income tax as the threshold slipped behind inflation. The rise to £1 million is a fulfilment of a promise the Conservatives have been making to their core voters for many years. Until the recent relative upturn in the economy, it was politically hard to deliver. The inclusion of the family home softens the blow for any detractors, who could argue that you should not be able to pass on a relatively modest family home free of tax? I suspect this will remain the limit now for a very long time. It will be difficult to justify any concessions on this going forward when the government is constantly looking for sources of income to pay for our increasing pension and long-term care bill as the population ages.
As we meet with clients over the coming year, it will be time to take stock and review how this affects people on an individual basis. The beauty of having a relationship with a financial planner is that we can respond to changes and make sure your plan is still fit for purpose. The financial landscape has changed dramatically over the last 18 months and we strongly recommend an ongoing review of financial plans to ensure people take advantage of changes to financial legislation as well as looking at how changes to personal circumstances affect your goals and objectives.
For more on the budget, check out the BBC summary or see how the budget changes will affect you with the BBC's Budget Calculator.