Budget 2019: top five predictions

Chancellor Sajid Javid wants to crack on with governing the country, and has pencilled in a date for Budget 2019 in the next fortnight.

It's safe to say pencilled in at the time of writing, amid the chaos in parliament and just days before the UK is set to leave the EU.

Whether or not Javid gets to deliver his first major fiscal announcement remains to be seen, but that hasn't stopped the rumour mill from going into overdrive.

All things point towards an end to austerity on 6 November, with tax cuts on the cards ahead of a potential general election.

It remains to be seen if the Chancellor will keep his position until the spring, when any changes will be rubber-stamped in Finance Act 2020.

With this in mind, here are five changes that could come out of Budget 2019 - potentially the first fiscal announcement after Brexit.

Inheritance tax

All bets are off as far as inheritance tax is concerned.

The freeze of the £325,000 tax-free threshold expires at the end of the tax year, and the new chancellor has indicated changes are on the horizon.

Some quarters suggest Javid could abolish inheritance tax altogether after recently admitting he "understands the arguments against it".

While it's doubtful he'll go that far, tweaks could be made to increase the nil-rate band and a single personal gift allowance could replace various gift exemptions.

The current seven-year period at which tax is owed on gifts could also be reduced to five years.

Then there's the prospect of a new digital system to eradicate what many people consider to be complex forms.

Pensions allowance

The Treasury has already committed to a review of the tapered annual allowance for pensions.

The current rules have caused unexpectedly high tax bills for some NHS clinicians, who have refused to take on extra shifts as a result.

Given highly-publicised shortages in the NHS, but could the Chancellor go a step further and abolish it?

That would certainly satisfy those who earn more than £150,000 a year, who have their pensions allowance reduced at £1 for every £2 above that amount.

Help-to-buy

While the Chancellor dismissed claims of a stamp duty overhaul in England and Northern Ireland, Javid could make changes to the help-to-buy scheme.

First-time buyers currently have until 30 November 2019 to open a help-to-buy ISA, which offers a maximum £3,000 government bonus on savings of up to £12,000.

The feeling is that next month's deadline for new applicants could be extended after housing secretary Robert Jenrick said "all options are on the table".

Jenrick and Javid have been discussing this since the summer, so an extension seems likely.

Apprenticeship levy

The Chancellor will almost certainly broaden the existing apprenticeship levy to give employers more flexibility when it comes to training their workforce.

Several campaign groups have been demanding this in recent months, to address skills shortages in industries such as social care and hospitality.

Javid will almost certainly evolve the apprenticeship levy into a wider skills levy when he delivers his speech.

Carers' allowance

Social care is likely to be one of the key themes of Budget 2019, and the carers' allowance could be in line for reform.

It's currently paid to people who provide more than 35 hours a week of care, usually for a family member or loved one.

Carers can claim the allowance, which is worth £66.15 a week, but they can only earn a further £123 a week without losing their entitlement to this support.

With the Department for Work and Pensions one of the wagons circling the current regime, change appears probable.

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