Autumn Statement: How will tax and benefit changes affect people here in Wales?

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Jeremy Hunt outlined changes to the UK Government’s spending plans in his Autumn Statement, which is a kind of mini-budget.  Credit: PA

People living and working here in Wales will pay less tax and receive higher benefit payments, according to the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Autumn Statement. 

The UK Government says 1.2 million workers in Wales will be £324 better off each year following a cut to National Insurance - paid by everyone in employment - coming in January. 

Jeremy Hunt outlined changes to the UK Government’s spending plans in his Autumn Statement, which is a kind of mini-budget. 

People in work will pay less tax on the money that they earn after the Chancellor announced National Insurance - paid by everyone in employment - from the start of the new year. 

Universal credits and other benefits will rise by 6.7% from next April, a higher figure than was being considered. 

But that comes with a tougher new regime. If someone remains out of work after 18 months of support they will have to undergo mandatory work placements and if they refuse, they will lose their benefits. 

If someone remains out of work after 18 months of support they will have to undergo mandatory work placements. Credit: PA Images

State pensions will increase by 8.5% in what the Chancellor said was “one of the largest-ever cash increases of the state pension”.

The National Living Wage - paid to around 140,000 people here in Wales - is increasing to £11.44 an hour from the current £10.42. And it will apply to 21 and 22-year-olds for the first time. 

Alcohol duty is being frozen until August 1st next year in order to make sure that the tax paid on a pint in the pub is lower than in shops. 

Announcing that move, Mr Hunt paid tribute to campaigning efforts by fellow Conservative MPs including the Vale of Glamorgan’s Alun Cairns. 

A new “investment zone” is to be set up in Wrexham and Flintshire. Investment zones like Freeports are areas where businesses can access tax breaks and other funding. 

Freeports and investment zones in England will be given 10 years of “financial incentives” rather than five as previously planned. 

The UK Government says it will work with the Welsh Government to ensure the same is offered to the two Freeports planned for Wales on Anglesey and at Port Talbot and Milford Haven. 

Mr Hunt said there would be £500,000 to support the Hay Festival.

HM Treasury says that there’ll be extra money for the Welsh Government too, amounting to £305m over this current financial year and the next to add to the £19bn the Welsh Government has available to spend. 

First Minister Mark Drakeford couldn't see any green shoots in today's Autumn Statement. He's reacted on X formerly Twitter saying, "Today we urgently needed long-term investment in our public services and growth in our economy."Instead, the Chancellor gave us short-term schemes, pet projects and more austerity while keeping the UK tax take at its highest level since the 1940s."

"Hugely ambitious" is how Welsh Secretary David TC Davies, has described today's statement. He says "It's putting money in the pockets of over a million working people across Wales".

He added: "The two new £160 million Investment Zones in north-east and south-east Wales and an ambitious commitment to floating offshore wind will encourage business and create jobs, while £5 million for transport links in Monmouthshire and £500,000 to support the Hay Festival are important investments in those communities."

The chancellor "needed to go further" and there could have been more help for families struggling with rising living costs according to Plaid Cymru’s Treasury spokesperson, Ben Lake MP.

He said: “Energy bills remain at historic high levels. Ahead of this Autumn Statement, Plaid Cymru argued for targeted support to help families with energy costs this winter, and a Social Energy Tariff to help make the system fairer in the long term.

"Between October 2021 and October 2023, energy costs have risen by 49% while average earnings have risen by 14%.

The MP for Ceredigion added: "It’s disappointing that the Chancellor failed to take this opportunity to help households."

The Welsh Liberal Democrat, Jane Dodds MS says there was Nothing in it for Wales”.

She said: “Today has seen more stale nonsense from a Conservative government out of touch and out of ideas.

"Rishi Sunak must be living on a different planet if he thinks this will ease the pain for hardworking families after years of cruel tax hikes from his government.

She added: "The Tories have once again shown themselves to be completely out of touch and are once again failing Wales."

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