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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 March, 2005, 00:01 GMT
Budget 2005: What we already know
By Sarah Toyne
BBC News personal finance reporter

A father looking at his child
Child Trust Funds will start in April

Gordon Brown will make his ninth Budget speech on Wednesday. Here is a guide to what you can expect to be announced and what has already been announced - but could be reannounced - during Budget 2005.


Individual Savings Accounts (Isas)

In the pre-Budget report, there was good news for supporters of Individual Savings Accounts (Isas).

The chancellor agreed to consult on extending the existing 7,000 tax-free Isa limit for another five years to 2009.

Dormant accounts

The chancellor may give an update on the government's proposals to redirect money held in dormant accounts - savings untouched for a period of up to three years.

Between 5bn and 20bn is lying around in bank coffers, and boosting bank profits.

Financial inclusion

A paper "Promoting financial inclusion" was published alongside December's pre-Budget report.

The UK has one of the most advanced financial services industry in the world, yet an estimated one in twelve households do not have access to any type of bank account.

In December's pre-Budget report, the government established a "Financial Inclusion Taskforce" and a 120m fund to tackle financial exclusion.

The government also created a "stakeholder" range of simple and low-cost savings products, which will be available from April 2005.

And it is extending the Savings Gateway - a scheme where the government matches the savings of low-income families.

Savings and benefits

From April 2006, the threshold above which someone's savings reduces their eligibility for income support, jobseeker's allowance, housing benefit and council tax benefit is changing.

Those with savings of up to 6,000, instead of 3,000, will have their savings disregarded when they are assessed for these benefits.

The government announced this change in Budget 2004.



From April 2005, all employer-supported childcare - not just childcare in work-based nurseries - will qualify for National Insurance (NI) and income tax relief, capped at 50 a week.

Six million families receive tax credits
The government is also anxious to reward people who are in work - and make work pay
Unlike Child Benefit, tax credits are not paid to all families with children but only those on low to middle incomes

The Daycare Trust, a childcare charity, says this will be worth about 1,000 a year to a higher-rate taxpayer and about 900 to a lower-rate taxpayer who can benefit from the scheme.

The government is also expanding the range of provision that can qualify for childcare help through tax credits, so that nannies and other types of childcare, such as breakfast clubs and childminders who care for children over the age of seven, can qualify.

Tax credits

There were cheers for the chancellor's announcement to spend an extra 1bn on tax credits in December's pre-Budget report.

The plan will help the government's child poverty targets - but middle class recipients of the new credits will miss out.

This is because the government is freezing the "family element" of the Child Tax Credit in 2005/06 at 545 a year.

Maternity and paternity leave

The government announced in its pre-Budget report that it was considering extending maternity leave in 2007 from six months to nine months, with a further extension to one year promised before the end of the next parliament.

Fathers could also be allowed to use some of the leave, giving parents greater flexibility.

Children's Centres

The government said in Budget 2004 that it will create 1,700 Children's Centres by March 2008.

These should provide services and childcare places in 20% of the most disadvantaged wards in England by 2007 to 2008.

Child Trust Funds

This new savings scheme will be available from April 2005.

The government will give 250, rising to 500 for low-income families, to babies born since September 2002.

Every fund may also be topped up by families or friends with extra contributions of up to a maximum limit of 1,200 a year.

It is hoped the money, which cannot be accessed until the child is 18 years old, will help towards university costs or for a deposit on a home.

The government has promised that in addition to the initial payment, it will make another payment to children on their seventh birthday of 250, rising to 500 for low-income families. This amount was announced in December's pre-Budget report.


Property Investment Funds (Pifs)

The chancellor could give an update on Property Investment Funds (Pifs), a new way of investing in commercial and residential property.

The trusts are already popular in many countries around the world, including Australia and US, where they are known as Real Estate Investment Trusts (Reits).

The trusts offer investors easy access to pooled property investments, which have special tax advantages.

Reits are firms that can trade property assets within their portfolio without paying corporation tax
They allow people with modest means invest in a diversified property portfolio Reits operate in most major western economies including Japan and the US
In the US Reits use 90% of their income to pay dividends to investors

Kate Barker, an economist who was commissioned by the Treasury to investigate the UK's housing supply, suggested similar trusts should be open to UK investors.

The government has previously said it will not legislate for their introduction in 2005, but will report back with a discussion paper by Budget 2005, for "further dialogue" with the industry.

Housing Benefit

Almost four million people pay their rent in the UK with help from housing benefit.

For sale signs
New rules will make it harder for families to cut IHT bills

The government is now piloting a new "free market" system, known as a "Local Housing Allowance (LHA)".

Tenants receive benefits based on the size of their family, where they live and their income - and not the rent they pay.

They know how much they will get before they sign a tenancy agreement, giving them more flexibility about where they can live.

If the rent is less than the LHA, they can keep the difference. If the LHA is not enough to pay the rent, they must pay extra.

The government has already announced it intends to introduce nine more "pathfinders" or trials from April 2005 before a national roll out by March 2008.

Other changes, being introduced from April 2005, will simplify housing benefit take- up rules.

Long-term fixed-rate mortgages

In the 2003 Budget, the chancellor announced a review into long-term fixed-rate mortgages and why they are not as popular in Britain as they are in the US and Europe.

David Miles, professor of finance at Imperial College, London, concluded that long-term fixed rates appeared expensive when compared to short-term fixed deals.

The Treasury, which has been conducting further research into the feasibility of introducing such loans, has said it will make a statement at the time of Budget 2005.


Income tax

Some of the changes to income tax rates and National Insurance (NI) were announced in December's pre-Budget report.

For example, the personal tax-free allowance for people under 65 will rise from 4,745 in 2004/05 to 4,895 in 2005/06.

However, commentators will eagerly await the chancellor's announcement on tax bands.

Tax returns

From April 2005, about one and a half million taxpayers with simple tax affairs - such as employees and pensioners - will receive a short tax return.

The government is introducing mandatory electronic filing for businesses by 2010.

Inheritance tax

The government wants to stop people avoiding Inheritance tax (IHT) by giving away assets, such as property, that they continue to benefit from, under the so-called "pre-owned assets" rules.

From April 2005, an income tax charge will be incurred in situations where people have transferred their houses to another family member to avoid IHT, but continue to live in it.

Ahead of the Budget, Dawn Primarolo, paymaster general, said the new regime would not apply retrospectively in many cases.

Tax avoidance

In Budget 2002, the government pledged "vigilance against tax avoidance".

The government recently introduced a new "Tax Avoidance Disclosure regime", an attempt to stop wealthy people from using creative tax avoidance regimes to avoid their tax liabilities.

Accountants must now submit tax schemes to the Revenue for inspection and they expect further clampdowns in the Budget.

The government has already launched a crackdown on VAT fraud and so-called missing trader fraud.

Residence & Domicile

Wealthy foreigners can live in the UK and pay hardly any tax because of favourable "residence" and "domicile" rules.

Changing the rules has been mooted since Budget 2003. Supporters of the existing rules say any crackdown would damage UK plc, as it could scare away existing and potential wealthy investors.

It is very uncertain if there will be change to the current laws.


A van
A nasty tax shock is still waiting many van drivers in 2007


The chancellor announced the Hampton Review, led by Philip Hampton, chairman of J. Sainsbury, in Budget 2004 to investigate red-tape. The review is expected to be ready for publication in time for the 2005 Budget.

Company vans

The chancellor is unlikely to stress changes to company van taxation as they will add significant costs for many drivers.

Employees provided with vans and some double-cab pick ups by their employers and employees who use work vehicles for private use, such as picking up their children from school, will see their tax bills increase dramatically from 2007.

The move was announced in Budget 2004.

Van owners that use their vehicles privately will be charged a flat rate of 3,000 from 2007 - a six-fold increase on the current rate of 500.

The changes do not apply to self-employed van drivers.

Business Link

From April 2005, the nine Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) in England will have more powers to run small business services, including advice service Business Link.

Local businesses

The Local Authority Business Growth Incentives (LABGI) scheme, starting in April 2005, will give a cash boost to those local authorities who promote enterprise.

Research and development

The government is expected to make an announcement about Research and Development (R&D).

Under current rules, only incorporated businesses can apply for R&D tax credits.

The Federation of Small Businesses hopes the chancellor will extend eligibility to sole traders and partnerships.


The UK's 3.75 million small and medium-sized businesses, account for more than 55% of business employment and 52% of business turnover.

The government is keen to open up procurement in the public sector to help small businesses compete with the big players.

A report on the progress of this work will be given in Budget 2005.


Pension deferral

Employment among older workers has increased since Labour took office in 1997.

The employment rate of people aged between 50 years and the state pension age has risen from 65% in 1997 to 70% now. And of those at or over state pension age, 9.2% are in employment now compared with 7.7% in 1997.

From April 2005, the government is increasing the benefits of deferring a state pension.

People who defer and choose state pension increments will see their pension rise by 10.4% a year instead of the current rate of 7.5% a year. A person deferring a state pension of about 100 a week for five years could see their pension rise to about 152 a week, the Treasury has estimated.

In addition, the government is also introducing the option of taking a deferred state pension for at least one year as a taxable lump sum instead of higher weekly pension payments.

Interest will be payable on the deferred pensions at the Bank of England base rate plus 2%.

Tax simplification

From 6 April 2006, eight existing tax regimes will be replaced with one single lifetime limit on the amount of pension savings that can benefit from tax relief.

From April 2005 a pension can be deferred for more than five years
Under new proposals the deferred pension can be taken as a lump sum, rather than as a weekly "top up"

The Budget set out that the lifetime allowance will be 1.5m in 2006; 1.6m in 2007; 1.65m in 2008; 1.75m in 2009; and 1.8m in 2010.

The good news is that from 2006 you will not have to buy an annuity from your pension fund.

Instead, when you reach 75 you can leave your fund invested and opt for an Alternatively Secured Pension (ASP).

ASP is a new type of "income withdrawal" scheme for those who have reached the age of 75.

One-off payment

Pensioners over 70 were offered an additional 50 payment for 2005/2006 in December's pre-Budget report.

This is less than the 100 payment, announced in Budget 2004, which they received last autumn.

State pension and Pension Credit

The Department for Work and Pensions has already announced the guaranteed element of the Pension Credit will rise from 105.45 to 109.45 from 6 April.

The full basic state pension will rise from 79.60 a week to 82.05 a week for a single person and from 127.25 a week to 131.20 a week for a couple.


New Deal for Skills

From April 2005, "skills coaches" will be tested in eight Jobcentre Plus districts. They will offer low-skilled benefits claimants face-to-face, personalised advice on training.

From April 2006, the government will extend this provision.

New Deal for Lone Parents

The government will cover the costs of a formal childcare place for a lone parent who has found a job through the New Deal for Lone Parents for up to one week before they start work, from April 2005.

The measure was announced in pre-Budget report 2003.

Ethnic minority businesses

The National Employment Panel and the Ethnic Minority Business Forum, will report by Budget 2005 on measures to encourage employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship among ethnic and faith minority groups.

Youth volunteering

The chancellor announced in Budget 2004 a new commission headed by Ian Russell of Scottish Power to report on the way forward for a National Youth Volunteering Strategy.

The Russell Commission will deliver its report to the chancellor and home secretary in spring 2005.

Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs)

In the Budget, the government will publish the results of a consultation on its "long-term vision" of financial support for 16-to-19 year olds.



The government is struggling to control spirit smuggling and is losing an estimated 600m a year as a consequence.

In the 2003 pre-Budget report and Budget 2004, the chancellor announced an attempt to crackdown on spirit smuggling by introducing tax stamps.

From 2006, producers will be required to apply a UK paid "tax stamp" on their products.


Green Landlord Scheme

The Treasury has promised to give an update on its proposed Green Landlord Scheme in Budget 2005. It would offer incentives to landlords who invested in energy efficiency measures.

Lorry road-user charge

As far back as Budget 2002, the government said it would introduce a distance-based lorry road-user charge in 2005 or 2006.

Lorry owners will be charged for UK road mileage. The charge's aim is to create a fairer playing field between UK and continental truckers, who can benefit from cheaper continental fuel. UK-based lorries should benefit from rebates on fuel duty.

Liquid Petroleum Gas

The government has announced it is increasing the duty rate for Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG).

Landfill taxes

As announced in Budget 2003, the standard rate of land fill tax will be increased by 3 per tonne in 2005/06 and by at least 3 per tonne in the following years to reach a medium-to-long-term rate of 35 per tonne.

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