In the world of finance, few events carry as much weight as the annual budget announcement. It’s a time when the Chancellor of the Exchequer steps forward to lay out the government’s financial plans for the coming year. This year, all eyes were on Jeremy Hunt as he took to the dispatch box to deliver his much-anticipated speech.

Taxation, as always, was a central theme. Among the headline-grabbing measures was a significant cut to National Insurance, a payroll tax that affects both employees and the self-employed. The reduction of 2p in the pound is set to provide welcome relief to many hard-working individuals across the country. However, it’s worth noting that while this cut is a positive step, the freeze on salary thresholds for income tax and national insurance means that some may still find themselves paying more tax as their incomes rise—a phenomenon known as fiscal drag.

Another notable change in the tax landscape is the overhaul of the non-dom tax regime, which will see new rules come into effect from April 2025. This move aims to create a fairer system for UK residents whose permanent home is overseas.

For savers, there’s good news on the horizon with the introduction of a £5,000 UK ISA tax allowance for investments in “UK-focused” shares. This initiative, set to follow a consultation, aims to encourage investment in domestic enterprises.

But what do these changes mean for the average person? For those wondering how much they stand to save from the National Insurance cut, tools such as calculators and payslip documents can provide valuable insights into their individual circumstances.

Moving beyond taxation, the budget also addresses issues related to benefits and income support. One significant change is the extension of full child benefits to households where the highest-earning parent earns up to £60,000—a £10,000 increase from the previous limit. Partial child benefit will also be available to those earning up to £80,000, providing additional support to families.

In recognition of the challenges faced by those on benefits, the government has announced a longer repayment period for emergency budgeting loans. Additionally, the continuation of a fund to assist those struggling with the cost of living pressures will offer much-needed relief to many.

With regards to health and well-being, measures to tackle smoking and alcohol consumption take centre stage. While alcohol duty remains frozen until February 2025, a new tax on vaping products will be introduced from October 2026. This move aims to curb the rising popularity of vaping while ensuring that tobacco remains a less attractive option.

When it comes to transportation and energy, the budget seeks to address concerns around fuel prices and environmental sustainability. Fuel duty will be frozen for another year, providing some respite for motorists. Meanwhile, a “windfall” tax on energy firms aims to redistribute profits towards initiatives that promote green energy.

In the housing sector, changes to tax rates on property sales and stamp duty exemptions reflect the government’s efforts to rebalance the housing market. With a lower tax rate on property profits and an end to stamp duty breaks for multiple property purchases, the landscape for property investors is set to shift.

Economic forecasts provide insight into the country’s financial trajectory, with predictions of modest growth and inflation rates below the 2% target. However, concerns persist over rising public debt, which is forecasted to reach 92.8% of GDP next year.

For businesses and investors, the budget brings a mix of opportunities and challenges. The threshold for VAT registration will be raised, providing relief for small businesses. Meanwhile, tax reliefs for cultural productions aim to support the creative industries—a vital sector of the economy.

The budget also includes funding for a memorial honouring Muslims who fought for Britain during World War One and Two. Additionally, a new tax credit for independent UK films underscores the government’s commitment to supporting the arts.

As the dust settles on Jeremy Hunt’s budget speech, it’s clear that the government’s financial plans for the coming year are ambitious yet pragmatic. With measures aimed at stimulating economic growth, supporting families, and tackling pressing social issues, the budget sets the stage for a period of change and renewal. Only time will tell how these policies will shape the nation’s future…