, ‘Tis The Season

I’ll give you one guess what the theme of this month’s newsletters gonna be. Yep, the Autumn statement. Well, for a short time anyway. We’ll get onto some fun Festive stuff later. But we need to consider some of the more interesting aspects of Jeremy’s efforts, not least of which is whether it was indeed the “biggest business tax cut in history” (spoiler alert, it wasn’t).

Maybe Mr Hunt thought some Yuletide magic would disguise the fact that while his headline reductions in NI will distract briefly, we still have a sky-high tax burden, not to mention the Exchequer-fattening fiscal drag of unchanged tax brackets, which the Chancellor largely ignored. Regarding the overall tax regime, the OBR, in their sums, concluded that taxes are on course to reach the highest level since the Second World War.

And, of course, there will be the New Year hangover of substantial public spending cuts that we’ll see when the theatrical smoke of the Autumn statement clears.

Let’s quickly scamper through some main points and get onto something less austere.

Economic Prospects

So, the OBR says that inflation will be around 2.8% by the end of next year and 2% by 2025, assuming we have no further global catastrophes; that’s right where we need it to be regarding mortgage affordability and cost of living pressures. As for economic growth, predictions indicate a tepid 0.6% rise in 2023, 0.7% in 2024, and 1.4% in 2025. But debt will also rise, hitting 91.6% of GDP next year and 92.7% in the 2024-2025 financial year.

You don’t need me to tell you the deficit needs to be reduced – whether via spending cuts, taxation or credible GDP growth.

Pay & Rations

For employers, a review of the wage bill is in the pipeline. Starting in April, the national living wage (as the government likes to call it) will be £11.44 per hour, up from the current £10.42. This new rate will apply to Brits over 21 (previously 23). For those under 21, the minimum wage is also increasing, including the lowest legal pay for apprentices.

Now, on to personal taxes and where the Chancellor’s sleight of hand lies. National insurance rates are getting a 2% cut, affecting about 27 million workers.

Those earning more than £12,570 a year will pay 10% instead of the current 12% on income up to £50,270. This change kicks in on January 6th 2024, so payroll adjustments will be needed.

The Self-Employed

For the self-employed, there’s a reform in national insurance payments, saving about 2 million people an average of £350 per year. Class 2 national insurance is getting scrapped, saving £192 a year for the self-employed. Class 4 national insurance will also drop from 9% to 8% on earnings between £12,570 and £50,270.

Overall, that looks quite pro-entrepreneur, and maybe it is.

But don’t forget that IR35 is still ruining everyone’s day, and the self-employed are not immune to the increased cost of living. Maybe those numbers are underwhelming when looked at in the round. But to coin a phrase, ‘every little helps’.

Business Support

An extra £500m is going into innovation centres for the next two years to make the UK an AI powerhouse. A new, more straightforward tax relief for Research & Development is on the horizon, merging the existing schemes but cutting the tax rate for loss-making companies from 25% to 19% (see my recent newsletter for more info on this as the changes are complex)

The complete expensing scheme of capital investment is becoming permanent, allowing firms to write off the entire cost of spending on new machinery and equipment. The 75% discount on business rates for retail, hospitality, and leisure firms is extended for another year, saving the average independent pub more than £12,800 next year.

All are positive but hardly earth-shattering moves.

Good In Parts?

The Autumn Statement was the classic Curate’s Egg, which initially looks delicious but is only ‘good in parts’. There are some mild pro-business elements but little else. However, like many, I can’t help feeling we’ve been softened up for a Spring General Election or, worse, a New Year economic-spending sucker punch.

, ‘Tis The Season

Top Picks For Christmas

Right, let’s get into the festive season with some gift guidance. It’s always a dilemma what to buy your loved ones at Christmas. With so much choice, knowing what’s likely to find favour is hard. I know it’s something I struggle with. So I thought I’d go to a respected font of all knowledge in the modern age and find some stuff you might find inspirational (well, I liked them).

I refer, of course, to TikTok. So here’s some stuff TikTokers think will bring Christmas joy to you and yours.

BRONAX Pillow Slippers

Nothing says ‘hey, look over here’, like strapping a couple of cushions to your feet. There’s a new trend in town, and it’s the kind that makes you question if you accidentally wandered into a world devoid of style, fashion or, indeed, shame. But our TikTok friends say this garish pastel footwear is so comfortable that you can wear them to run your errands (or chase your dreams) without missing a beat. Who needs shoes when you can have slippers that double as portable pillows?

Twelve South AirFly Pro

I was ahead of the curve when I said Apple Airpods are the best thing since sliced bread. And now there’s Twelve South’s AirFly Pro, a wireless transmitter that connects your precious headphones to any wired thingamajig. Plug into the in-flight media system and avoid pulling your head off when you nip to the loo. Want to watch TV without disturbing those who prefer to read (weird, right)? Just plug it into the TV’s headphone jack and enjoy your movie in full widescreen splendour. It’s the perfect way to enjoy your private entertainment world, which we all know that’s the best place to be anyway!

Casio A158WA-1DF Watch

Do you remember the eighties? No, me neither. But here’s a gift that says, “I just time-travelled from the Eighties”! The Casio A158WA-1DF is not just a watch; it’s a nostalgia trip with an easy-to-read digital face that’s as classic as a Duran Duran album. It has many features like telling the time and date, and errrr, that’s it. Who cares? So it doesn’t tell you how many steps you’ve taken; it’s a cool, retro-futuristic statement piece. A gift that helps you stand out from the crowd, especially if you wear it with your day-glow leg warmers!

ODISTAR Desktop Vacuum Cleaner

WFH? Got Crumbs from a working lunch? Then you need one of these because detritus and dust bunnies are the mortal enemies of productivity. Watch as this miniature marvel sucks up the evidence of your festive addiction to turkey and stuffing crisps. It’s so powerful that it might even vacuum up your to-do list.

The Banana Loca

From the depths of TikTok comes the bizarre Banana Loca. Why eat a banana in the usual way when you can turn it into a dessert masterpiece? This gadget transforms the humble banana into a vessel for Nutella, peanut butter, or marmite while straightening it out quicker than an EU directive. It’s the ultimate blend of healthy, indulgent, joyful, and utterly pointless.

Apple AirTag 4-Pack

OK, let’s have a gift you actually might like. Apple AirTags will help you find your most prized items. Whether it’s keys, pets, or that elusive sock that always goes missing under the bed, the AirTag will track it down. With the Find My app on your iPhone, you can locate belongings with the precision of a spy satellite. The built-in speaker adds a touch of drama to your search, making your tags feel like a Bond gadget fresh from Q-Branch. You may never lose anything again unless you misplace your pack of AirTags. In this case, you’re beyond help!

Whistle while you walk (or work). This kit is not for running but ideal for an office-based stroll or power walk as you chomp through your to-do list. Compact enough to fit under your desk, this mini treadmill lets you exercise without the hassle of driving to the gym. As you know, I’m all for staying fit, and this could save you time and gym fees while destroying your credibility in one compact product. Why not give one a go for a day or two before stowing it in your wardrobe for the rest of time?

See You On The Other Side

Some good ideas there; I hope you’ll agree. Get ’em quick because there are 1 billion monthly active TikTok users who’ll be competing for them!

So, all that remains is to wish you all a fantastic festive season. Have fun, laugh lots and remember it’s the people in our lives who make this time of year so special, so make the most of your holidays with those you love.

Finally, thanks for being an Enso client and trusting us with your finances. My team and I look forward to making 2024 your most successful yet.

All the best


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