Philip HammondNSI‘s Autumn Statement contained few giveaways, but there was a modest gift for savers. Next Spring a new National Savings & Investments Bond will be launched that will pay 2.2% interest for three years. This is well ahead of the best 3-year rates currently available. The maximum investment will be just £3,000 per person – though Mr Hammond could do what previous Chancellors have done and hope to win a popular headline by raising the limit next year.

New measures mean some will pay IHT at 80%

The ‘residential nil rate band’ that will be introduced to inheritance tax law from April 2017 means a couple will be able to hand down an estate of up to £1 million with no tax after 2020, says the Telegraph. The ‘taper’ provisions mean that if your estate is over £2.2 million you do not get the new allowance, but if it is £2 million you do get it. That means there’s an effective tax rate of 80% on the £200,000 difference. Clearly there is scope for some tax planning in such cases.

Where’s the gold?

After he wrote a recent article about gold, Telegraph reporter James Dyson had stacks of readers’ letters questioning the basis of exchange traded funds that invest in gold. Do they really have the gold? readers asked. Dyson dug into the details to establish that the biggest UK fund has standardised gold bars, each one numbered and certified, in bank vaults in London. Its $10 billion’s worth of gold would fit, the boss told him, into an average kitchen. These physical holdings of gold are independently audited twice a year.

New £1 to beat forgers

Next year, Britain will get a new pound. A new £1 coin, to be precise, because the Bank of England reckons no less than 3 in every 100 of the 1.5 billion in circulation today are forgeries. The 12-sided replacement coin will be a much bigger challenge for forgers, and indeed for coin machine vendors, who are hard at work reprogramming their machines ready for the change. It starts in March but the old coins will be valid until September. The Mail says a complete set of all 25 different designs of the old £1 coin – including a new one marked 2016 that won’t even enter circulation but can be bought from the Royal Mint for nearly £9 – could become very valuable.

BTL buyers go limited

There has been a huge rise in the number of Buy To Let owners using companies to hold their properties, says the Mail. In the first 9 months of 2016 there were over 100,000 BTL loans to companies, more than  double the number for the whole of 2015. Most are doing so to avoid the effect of a tax change in April 2017, when tax relief against the higher rate of income tax on mortgage interest will be disallowed. It’s estimated the changes will push half a million BTL owners into paying higher rate income tax at 40%.

Energy firm failure worries

The failure of GB Energy, a recent entrant to the domestic energy supply market that offered very cheap deals but went bankrupt in November, has sent shock waves through the market. A subsidiary of the Midlands Co-op has bought GB Energy and will take over supply, but it will not meet all the bills. Customers paying by direct debit who had credit on their accounts will get paid, but it will be via a levy on the whole energy industry under new rules laid down by regulator Ofgem. Pundits said there had been an explosion in the number of of new energy suppliers in recent years and others might also fail.

Care homes investigation

UK care homes will be investigated by the Competition and Markets Authority, reported the BBC. The CMA will review contract terms and practices and ask if there have been breaches of UK consumer law, as some have claimed. The CMA will also evaluate competition between care homes in driving quality and value for money for residents and taxpayers, and review the way local authorities and other public bodies purchase and assign care home places. The review will take up to a year to complete.

Financial Advice Clifton Bristol

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