Jeff Prestridge  

Our biggest problem yet

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

With this edition of Financial Adviser dropping on your doorstep the day of the general election, we soon discover who will form the next government.

There are many aspects of the Labour party’s manifesto that have obvious appeal – to young and old.

An end to tuition fees, no more pushing back of the state pension age, an extension of both maternity and paternity rights, company shares for workers, and a culling of the gig economy and zero hour contracts. 

Even the prospect of a 32-hour working week to look forward to by 2030. 

A widespread nationalisation campaign – rail, mail, water and energy – that Jeremy Corbyn claims will result in lower fares and smaller utility bills. Savings, we are told, for the average family of some £6,716 a year.

There are even pledges to address some of the issues I have campaigned on as personal finance editor of The Mail on Sunday. For example, recompense for women born in the 1950s whose state pension age was pushed back without adequate notice, plunging some of them into poverty – and free TV licences for the over 75s. 

Even a halt to bank branch closures, a beefing up of the local post office service, and an end to the charging of fees for withdrawing cash from an ATM. So, something for all. 

Yet, when it comes to the preservation and generation of personal wealth, Labour is a concern.

Analysts have warned that if Labour is elected, it will trigger a run on the pound and a sharp correction – short-term at least – in the UK stock market.

A number of the utility companies, threatened by renationalisation, will see their share prices come under pressure.

Investment bank Jefferies predicts that shares in companies such as BT, National Grid, Pennon, Royal Mail, Royal Bank of Scotland, SSE, Severn Trent, United Utilities and William Hill will all be adversely impacted.

Scary? Yes, although it is Labour’s proposed changes to capital gains tax and dividend tax that I think are potentially more damaging.

A reduction in the annual capital gains and dividend allowances to £1,000 will deal a crushing blow to investors. As will the taxing of any capital gains made or dividend income received above these new ‘de minimis’ allowances at a taxpayer’s highest marginal rate of tax. 

If these measures are pushed through, they will do serious damage to many investors’ portfolios.

They will also dissuade some from building wealth outside tax-friendly wrappers such as pensions and Isas.

Financial planners, I am sure, will be busy if Labour wins, ensuring clients’ portfolios are robust enough to withstand anything Mr Corbyn, and in particular his chancellor of the exchequer John McDonnell, throws at them.

Yet, some financial planners believe the financial press’s obsession with the outcome of the general election has been misguided.