When it comes to investing, there are numerous questions that need to be asked, and lots of things which need to be properly understood before committing your hard-earned money
The Budget 2015: What should you expect?
As all eyes fall on George Osborne for Wednesday’s delivery of the Budget, we wanted to share our thoughts with you as to what might be in store. We’ve come a long way since 1853, when a no-doubt tetchy audience yawned on as William Gladstone rambled on for 285 minutes in his Budget speech. Had said audience been around to see Gordon Brown’s rendition in 2000, it would have felt like a whirlwind by comparison as he clocked in at just over 50 minutes.
Perhaps it was Gladstone’s lengthy soliloquy that inspired the tradition of the Chancellor indulging in an alcoholic beverage while speaking, and it’s one the likes of Ken Clarke (whisky) and Benjamin Disraeli (brandy and water) willingly took advantage of.
Osborne, who usually opts for the water, might go for something stronger this time around given the added significance of May’s General Election. Although spending plans have already been announced for 2015/16, pandering to public demand will always be the temptation with voters heading to the ballot boxes in just over seven weeks.
So what can we expect?
2015 is one of the tougher Budgets to predict, given how few details have been leaked. The Chancellor has already announced that personal tax allowances will be increasing from £10,000 to £10,600 this Budget, but the possibility of further increasing this threshold remains; if not now, then perhaps a promise to increase it over the life of the next Parliament might be the result.
The higher-rate tax threshold may also rise. The level at which this tax applies has been out of sync with inflation levels, thus resulting in more and more people falling into this bracket. Addressing such an imbalance would surely win a vote or two.
For soon-to-be pensioners, the incoming reforms are now well documented, and the Budget itself will likely serve simply as a reminder of this. However, for existing pensioners locked into annuities and feeling as though they’ve missed the boat, the idea of selling an annuity for cash has been mooted, and it seems probable that the wheels for this will be put in motion on Wednesday.
Are we going to get squeezed?
The bold announcement that the national deficit will be eliminated by 2017/18 leaves precious little wiggle room for any pre-election freebies, especially with the current deficit sitting at 88% of last year’s GDP. Some £30bn would need to be generated in the next few years, either from spending cuts or tax increases.
One means of sparing consumers and businesses the burden is by clamping down on tax avoidance and evasion. There have already been hints from Osborne that a HMRC crackdown could be upon us, and it seems a likely course of action in the wake of recent corporate scandals. In addition, Capital Gains Tax for non-residents on any gain in the value of property will be kicking in from 6th April, which will also take some of the strain off the general public.
What about Lending ISAs?
The date of announcement for the decision on ISAs has remained a well-kept secret. Even if it isn’t made during the Budget speech itself, the expectation is that the decision will be made public before the end of the month.
Last year’s Budget represented a landmark day for the peer-to-peer lending sector, as Osborne announced that people would be able to hold P2P loans within an ISA. What remains to be seen is whether these loans will now be included within the Stocks & Shares wrapper, or if a separate ISA will be created. For Lending Works and other P2P lending platforms, the latter would be considerably more favourable in terms of clarity of the unique risk profile of this asset class, and research by the Peer-to-Peer Finance Association showed that 74% of consumers favoured the introduction of separate ISAs too.
Given the air of unpredictability - and Osborne’s knack for causing a surprise or two - it promises to be an interesting week. Yet should the Conservatives be ousted in the General Election, the likelihood is that Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls will deliver another Budget later this year, rendering some of Wednesday’s plans null and void.
However, the inclusion of P2P lending within ISAs will be here to stay regardless, and next week could mark the beginning of a new era for the industry – one that we at Lending Works are very excited about!
Our website offers information about saving, investing, tax and other financial matters, but not personal advice. If you're not sure whether peer-to-peer lending is right for you, please seek independent financial advice, and if you decide to invest with Lending Works, please read our Key Lender Information PDF first.
For all the resilience the UK economy has shown, there is no doubt that this year's ISA season is set against a backdrop of uncertainty. Whatever the pros and cons, Brexit, and a lack of clarity on what our future economic relationship with the EU will look like, has left us at a crossroads.
The Lifetime ISA (LISA), announced in 2016, would prove to be one of George Osborne’s last flagship gestures to UK savers and investors as Chancellor, eventually launching against a backdrop of anti-climax a year later in April 2017.
As the tax year end approaches, the financial services industry readies itself for a flurry of activity. That's in large part because, with just a couple of months to go, the so-called 'ISA season' is upon us.
Over the last decade, there can be little dispute that the reputation of mainstream banks – and particularly the so-called ‘Big Four’ (HSBC, Barclays, Lloyds and RBS) – is at its lowest ebb.
The peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry is now regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The regulatory framework has been designed to protect customers and promote effective competition.
Loan underwriting is the process that we undertake to analyse all of the information provided by each loan applicant and their credit file to assess whether or not that applicant meets our minimum loan criteria. As part of that process all data is verified, analysed and summarised to paint a picture of each applicant.
When you earn interest from a regular bank savings account, for example, the bank automatically deducts basic rate tax (currently 20%) before paying your interest. With interest earned from peer-to-peer lending, tax is not deducted automatically so lenders will need to declare their income to HMRC.
The starting gun has been fired to seek out Mark Carney's successor as Governor of the Bank of England (BoE), but he will nevertheless remain in his post until January 2020.
The vexing issue of social care, set against a backdrop of an ageing population trying to sustain itself, refuses to go away, and policy ideas invariably prove divisive.
On a daily basis, diligent readers of financial publications consume a wide range of economic data, which act as key performance indicators regarding the state of the UK economy.