MSE News

Budget 2018: What you need to know, incl changes to tax, benefits, Premium Bonds & more

Income tax cuts will be brought in a year earlier than planned and an extra £1 billion spent to help protect those moving onto universal credit, as part of the 2018 Budget unveiled by the Chancellor Philip Hammond.

Here's a summary of the key announcements:

  • Most will pay less income tax from next April. Two changes which were supposed to come in during April 2020 will now apply from April 2019 instead. The personal allowance – the amount you can earn without paying any income tax – will be raised from £11,850 to £12,500, while the threshold at which you start paying the higher rate tax will be raised from £46,350 to £50,000.

    National insurance thresholds will also rise – a fact which wasn't announced in the Chancellor's speech and was only buried in the Budget papers. For full info, including what the likely impact will be on your take-home pay, see our Income tax changes story.

  • Extra cash for those on universal credit. Hammond announced two new measures to help universal credit claimants. He's set aside £1 billion over five years to fund top-up payments for those migrated onto universal credit from other benefits. And work allowances – what people can earn before they start to lose their benefits – will be increased by £1,000/year, meaning some will have an extra £630/year in their pocket. See full info on universal credit changes.

  • The minimum amount you can save in Premium Bonds will drop from £100 to £25. People other than parents and grandparents will also be able to gift Premium Bonds to a child, and a new app will be launched – see full details in our Premium Bonds changes news story.

  • Stamp duty relief has been extended to shared ownership properties on the first £300,000 of those valued at up to £500,000. If you're a first-time buyer in England or Northern Ireland and purchase a shared ownership property up to this value, you'll now pay zero stamp duty on the first £300,000. This change comes into effect immediately and will also be applied retrospectively back to the last Budget, so you'll likely be able to get cash back if you bought since November 2017. See full stamp duty relief info. 

  • Fuel duty has been frozen. It's the ninth year duty has been frozen – though we already knew this was happening as it was announced at the Conservative Party Conference.

  • Duty on spirits, cider and beer will be frozen. Wine duty will increase at the Retail Prices Index (RPI) rate of inflation, while tobacco duty will increase at two percentage points above RPI.

  • Local authorities in England to be given £420 million for road repairs. This will be made available immediately to local highways authorities to fix potholes and carry out other repairs. The boost comes after a harsh winter followed by a scorching summer has damaged many local roads. See our Pothole Claims guide for full help if you've been affected.

  • The national living wage for over-25s will rise to £8.21 an hour. It is currently £7.83/hour for those over the age of 25. The national minimum wage, which applies to those under 25, is also rising – see full details in our National living wage rises news story.

  • Short-haul rates of air passenger duty have been frozen. This is a charge on outgoing flights from the UK paid by airlines to HM Revenue and Customs, but it's typically passed on to passengers via ticket prices. Air passenger duty on short-haul routes will not rise for the eighth year in a row, but long-haul rates will go up in line with inflation. For tips on cutting the cost of flights, see our Cheap Flights guide.

  • A "commemorative" 50p Brexit coin will be available to buy from Spring 2019. The Royal Mint will create a new coin to mark the UK's exit from the European Union. See our 50p Brexit coin story for full info (and to see what it looks like).

  • Pensions cold-calling will be made illegal this autumn. The Government first mooted a ban back in 2017 and consulted on it earlier this year. The response to the consultation has now been published, and it says that draft regulations will be published in the autumn. See our Pension cold calling ban news story.

  • The annual ISA allowance will remain at £20,000 in 2019/20. That's the limit for adults – the annual allowance for Junior ISAs will be go up in line with inflation in 2019/20 to £4,368. See Top Cash ISAs for more on how ISAs work and our current top picks. 

  • The Help to Buy Equity Loan scheme will be extended by two years in watered-down form. This scheme for new-build properties is designed to help those with 5% deposits get on the housing ladder. The Government lends you up to 20% of the property price and after five years you'll have to start paying interest on the loan. The scheme was due to end in 2021, but has now been extended until 2023 – however, it will now only be open to first-time buyers and lower regional price caps will be applied.

  • People struggling with debt will be given more 'breathing space'. This was pre-announced over the weekend – those with serious debts will be given a longer grace period of 60 days before being hit with further interest, charges and enforcement action.