Yes, it sounds quite boring and yes, it's DEFINITELY complicated - but it affects you more than you might think...
To be honest, even the word ‘budget’ makes us want to curl up into a ball and cry – stuffing toilet roll into our mouth to stem the tears while the words ‘housing crisis’ stick thick in the back of our throats.
But as the government reveals its spending plans for the next 12 months, it’s worth lifting your head – just a milimetre or two, don’t worry – and peering at your phone screen to find out what’s going on. Because even if you’re so broke you’ve taken to licking your breakfast yoghurt lid and calling it lunch, yesterday’s announcement still has a bigger impact on your day-to-day life than you might think.
FIZZY DRINKS ARE ABOUT TO GET A HELLA LOT MORE EXPENSIVE
George Osbourne has announced the introduction of a ‘Sugar Tax’, which will be applied to fizzy drinks such as Coca-Cola, Irn-Bru and Pepsi (we could go on, but you get the gist). The money that they make from this will go into funding more sports education in schools across the country – meaning the younger generations will have less fillings, and more muscles. Or something like that anyway. Which is a good thing. (Even if it does mean you might want to start finding alternative mixers on nights out.)
IT’S GOING TO BE A LOT HARDER TO GET HELP IF YOU’RE A WOMAN
Women’s services – especially those providing support for survivors of domestic abuse – have had their funding cut by up to 30 per cent. This is despite the fact that the number of women coming forward to ask for help has increased dramatically since 2010, and as it stands, one in three women are already being turned away from refuges because there aren’t enough beds.
THINGS ARE GOING TO BE (MARGINALLY) BETTER IF YOU’RE SELF EMPLOYED
From 2018 (yep, you’re going to have to wait two years for this to be implemented), individuals who are self employed won’t have to pay National Insurance until they’re earning over £8,060, whereas at the moment, you have to pay it if you’re earning over £5,965. ‘Hurrah’, we hear you cry – ‘I’ll quit my job and be my own boss!’ But it’s worth remembering that actually, inflation and increased rental rates mean that really, you’re not going to be much better off. Plus, who knows what you’ll be doing in two years time anyway.
IF YOU EARN OVER £42K (BUT UNDER £45K), YOU’LL BE BETTER OFF
George has raised the top rate income tax threshold (yeah we zoned out typing that too) from £42,385 to £45,000 – meaning that if you earn between £42,385 and £45,000, you’re going to be taxed at a lower rate. But if you earn over £45k, you’re still going to be taxed at the highest rate, and if you earn under £42,385, then this doesn’t apply to you anyway so you can just move on. (Which is basically everyone, then.)
IF YOU’RE UNDER 40, YOU CAN GET A ‘LIFETIME ISA’.
This is the big one, which George is billing as the thing which will save the millennial generation (our words, not his). Unfortunately, he’s kind of missed the mark a bit. Basically, he’s worried that we’re not saving enough, so he’s implemented ‘lifetime ISAs’ for everybody under 40. For every four pounds you save, the government will give you one more, for free. So if you save £400, you get an extra £100. But while you can withdraw the savings at any time tax-free, you’ll have to pay an ‘early exit’ fee of five per cent the total amount. Yikes.
And there’s one more thing that George seems to have missed. First, the main reason why we Millennials aren’t saving enough is because we don’t have enough money to save. It’s not because we don’t have the incentive (trust us, we like houses and we like holidays and we like clothes as much as the next Baby Boomer). It’s because we have to pay sky-high rents with bafflingly low salaries. And until that’s taken into account, an extra bank card isn’t really going to benefit anyone.