One of the planks of the 2016 budget was the importance of people keeping more of what they earn, and saving more for their future.
First, the annual ISA allowance that any adult can use is leaping from £15,240 to £20,000 in April 2017. That means you can save up to £20,000 a year in cash or shares tax-free.
Second, we saw the unveiling of the Lifetime ISA.
This plan will be available from April next year. You’ll be able to save up to £4000 a year, and the government will top up your savings by 25% - up to £1000 a year.
There are restrictions, though. You’ll have to be aged 18 – 40 (so I can’t have one), and you’ll have to put the money towards your first home or your retirement.
The plans can run till you’re 50, and you can use the funds as retirement cash from age 60 onwards. Take the money out sooner and penalties will apply.
The Lifetime ISA is certainly worth thinking about, since the government bonus is like earning 25% interest – you certainly won’t get that anywhere else.
So we saw increases in the personal tax allowance – up to £11,500 from April next year – and in the higher rate tax threshold, where people start paying 40% tax – up to £45,000, also from next April.
The chancellor says these measures will mean 1.3 million people stop paying tax altogether, while 500,000 will stop paying tax at the higher rate.
Rates of capital gains tax have also been reduced, and tax breaks have been introduced for people who sell items or who rent out their property on the internet.
The chancellor also increased insurance premium tax from 9.5% to 10%, to take effect from 1 October. This will be the second increase in a year – it increased from 6% to 9.5% last November.
The only consolation for hard-pressed car, home, pet and private medical insurance buyers is that the proceeds from the latest increase – estimated to be £700m a year – will be used to improve flood defences and protect vulnerable properties across Britain.
But with premiums on the up generally, it’s more important than ever to shop around at renewal to make sure you’re getting the best price possible.