On Wednesday, 8 March Philip Hammond stands up to give what is due to be the last 'Spring Budget'. We asked three advisers what changes and innovations - if any - they wanted to hear from the Chancellor of the Exchequer ...
Unusually, given what has become almost accepted practice in recent years, whispers and hints as to what might come up have been in remarkably short supply - perhaps because the government has more than one eye on the upcoming Brexit negoitiations.
Former pensions minister Ros Altmann did tell Professional Adviser last month she had heard noises about social care saving incentives being under consideration for the Budget. Aside from that, however, word on the street - indeed, word anywhere - has been noticable by its absence, leading manay commentators to conclude next Wednesday could be something of a non-event.
With the uncertainty of Brexit hanging over the UK, it is easy to argue the government is too preoccupied to tinker with pensions and other financial services legislation. This time three years ago, however, nobody saw pension freedom coming ...
We asked three advisers what, if anything, they would like to see from the upcoming Budget.
‘Long-term sustainability over political point-scoring'
Patrick Connolly, certified financial planner, Chase de Vere
"Generally we don't want too much tinkering with pensions and taxes. But the one area we would really like to see something concrete is the government coming up with a long-term solution for dealing with the social care crisis.
"This is a problem that is only going to get worse if it isn't addressed, and the current system isn't particularly fair in terms of who pays and how much they pay.
"The question is whether the government will come up with something long-term and sustainable or whether it is just tinkering around the edges to score some political points".
‘Scrap the pensions lifetime allowance'
Martin Bamford, managing director, Informed Choice
"At the moment, we have not seen too many hints what will happen in the Budget - and obviously it is being presented against the uncertainly of the Brexit negotiations that are about to start. But there are a number of things I'd like to see in the Budget next week.
"Despite what we may have read about Philip Hammond having a bit more in the kitty from the tax surplus in January, I don't think he's particularly going to be spending that money and making us all happy. It's going to be more frugality and austerity.
"I would love to see the lifetime allowance for pensions scrapped. If we have the annual allowance already limiting what people can put in, it's just become unnecessary to dictate on what people can take out.
"Another big one for me is the high income benefit tax. I'd love to see that made fairer. At the moment, we have a situation where a couple who between them are earning almost £100,000 are not caught, but a couple where one person is earning is earning just over £50,000 and the other is earning nothing do get caught out.
"The other thing relates to making tax digital. I want to see this introduced in a more considered way - with maybe a bit more patience over the timetable. We all accept that tax is going to become digital in the end but let's have it done properly so people are not inconvenienced by a rushed-out system."
‘Make lifetime allowance higher than £1m'
Matthew Bird, investment and mortgage adviser, Seer Green
"The less the better, really. I'm a pension adviser mainly and I think the less meddling, the more we professionals would appreciate it.
"The system, as it is, is working pretty well. There are a few things that are being debated, like axing higher-rate tax relief on pensions - and definitely we don't want to see that.
"Cutting the money purchase annual allowance following the Autumn Statement isn't at all welcome either. To drop it from £10,000 to £4,000 is very restrictive and not particularly fair.
"The £1m cap on pensions is quite restrictive as well. It sounds like a lot of money at first - but when you think a lot of people are now saying a sensible amount to pull out of a pension is 3.5% a year, it isn't as much as you think really in terms of its ability to provide an income. The lifetime allowance should definitely be higher than £1m."
Professional Adviser has again teamed up with Cofunds, the UK's largest platform, and experts from Technical Connection for a special ‘morning after' webinar to discuss whatever changes the 8 March Budget may bring and how they could affect advisers and their clients. You can register here now and then tune in on Thursday 9 March at 11am.
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