TaxMar 24 2023

How tax changes have affected your clients' financial confidence

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How tax changes have affected your clients' financial confidence
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Budget has not done anything to improve Britain's financial confidence. (Reuters/Peter Nicholls)

Advisers must help clients focus on making the most of their tax allowances, as consumer confidence in their personal finances falls, data shows.

Laura Suter, head of personal finance at AJ Bell, said it was no surprise that for advisers and clients, April 6 is a "key date in the financial calendar".

She said: "There are a number of different tax changes coming in that will both help and hinder households, depending on their circumstances."

As reported by FTAdviser in the by-now-familiar Tax Table, a combination of frozen tax brackets and wage inflation, which currently stands at 5.7 per cent, means the Treasury will take a growing share of clients' income.

Investors face a tax raid in the form of drastically reduced capital gains tax and dividend allowance limits.Laura Suter, AJ Bell

But this also comes at a time when Britons are more wary than ever about their personal financial situation, as the cost-of-living continues to bite, interest rates rose to 4.25 per cent and headline inflation crept upwards again in January, unexpectedly, to stand at 10.4 per cent. 

According to data from GfK's long-running consumer confidence index, which measures a range of different aspects, the index measuring changes in personal finances during the last 12 months was the same at -26; this is 13 points worse than March 2022. 

The forecast for personal finances over the next 12 months decreased three points to -21, which is three points lower than this time last year.

Overall, Britons felt the general economic situation of the country over the next 12 months is looking more rosy, with forward-looking consumer confidence increasing by three points to -40, nine points better than March 2022 (see table).

But while there was an improvement in the overall confidence score, Joe Staton, client strategy director GfK, said: “A small improvement in the Overall Index Score this month masks continuing concerns among consumers about their personal financial situation.

"This measure best reflects the financial pulse of the nation and it remains weak.'

GfK's confidence measures show a mixed bag for Britons this quarter.

Staton added: "Wages are not keeping up with rising prices and the cost-of-living crisis remains a stark reality for most. The recent Budget will bring relief to some sections of the population, but for now many people are simply looking to survive day-by-day.

"Just having enough money to live right and pay the bills remains the number one concern for consumers across the UK.”

Suter agreed: "For those worried about energy bills, although the Energy Price Guarantee has been extended, they'll stop receiving the £66 monthly discount off their direct debit as the government's winter subsidy scheme ends.

"Elsewhere, investors face a tax raid in the form of drastically reduced capital gains tax and dividend allowance limits."

As reported, the big winners post-Budget will be wealthier pension savers, who will enjoy a 50 per cent increase to the annual allowance as well as an end to penalties on pension investment growth as lifetime allowance charges are scrapped.

However, this may not be the bargaining-chip chancellor Jeremy Hunt is hoping for when it comes to luring the over 50s back into employment.

For example, Jason Hollands, director, corporate affairs, at wealth management firm Evelyn Partners, told FTAdviser the impact of the abolition of the lifetime allowance on asset allocation in pension portfolios will be "limited" because of other factors that impact it, such as life expectancy and income requirement in retirement.