Chancellor George Osborne announced his Budget for the year last night, and it is likely to have wide-ranging effects. Here are some of the things that could apply to you…
Sugar Tax: The government has been toying with the idea of a sugar tax for some time and today it announced a tax on soft drinks, with levies to be calculated based on the levels of sugar per drink. Students have often looked to sugary drinks to pull them through their studies, so to many this could a blow to their finances. The levels will be released fairly soon, but the government claims that it could raise £520m which will be spent on primary school sports.
Savings: The creation of new ‘lifetime ISAs’ for the under-40s, where the government will contribute £1 for every £4 saved in one of these accounts, is said to be aimed more specifically at graduates. Expansion of the help-to-buy scheme, which will see the government match every £4,000 put away for a deposit by first time buyers with £1,000 a year, is also available as part of a separate pension scheme (available from the age of 50). These two measures will be important steps for current students, as these schemes could aid graduates both now and in the near future.
Transport: For those that come from outside of Liverpool, yesterday the Chancellor confirmed the green light for HighSpeed3 (or HS3) rail, which will be built between Manchester and Leeds, and eventually link Liverpool across to Hull, giving vastly faster West-East connections than currently in place. Upgrades to the M62 worth almost £230m were announced as well, so expect some traffic on the way to Manchester and beyond.
Alcohol, Tobacco and Fuel: The duty charged on fuel will be kept at the current 57.95p for another year, meaning car running costs won’t be increasing in the near future. Taxes applying to beer, cider and spirits will also be frozen for the coming year. The same cannot be said for the duty charged on tobacco, which will be pegged with inflation plus an extra 2%, for the coming year, as a monthly increase in costs for smokers.
Taxes: The ‘tax-free personal allowance’, the allocated amount of money people can earn without paying any tax, will rise from £11,000 to £11,500 by this time next year -very important for graduates. The threshold for paying the 40% tax rate will rise from £42,385 to £45,000 by the end of 2017. Corporation tax is to be reduced from 20% to 17% by 2020.
Other stuff: If you happen to come from York, Leeds, the Calder Valley, Carlisle or Cumbria, an additional £700m has been allocated to the flood defence fund, to help bolster efforts to stop a repeat of floodings that occurred over Christmas. A Shakespeare Centre will be built at a cost of £20m in Knowsley, Merseyside to celebrate the role it played in the development of the actors of Shakespeare’s plays.