Our view of the budget and how it may affect clients.
In general, the budget was fairly benign with no real surprises. Most commentators are fairly happy with the Chancellor’s changes. My high level view is that the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has signalled three stages for future policy.
Straight away he is helping those hit by the COVID pandemic, this phase lasts until September. We will then see a period aimed at stimulating the economy and finally from 2023 a period of tax increases to begin to repay government borrowing.
From a financial planning perspective, there were no major changes, though it is worth noting that the Pensions Lifetime Allowance (LTA) will be frozen at £1,073,100, it had previously had a policy of being index linked. If this affects you, please let us know and we can suggest a course of action.
Whilst we do not know the tax measures that will come in future budgets, it may also be worth considering tax opportunities available and tax rates today as open to possible change. Again, if you feel this may affect your plan please talk to us.
Shane Fereday DipPFS
After a strong start to the month, most equity markets gave up their gains as the month came to a close. Developed market equities ended the month down 1%, although emerging markets significantly outperformed, ending January up about 3%. Initially, the global roll out of vaccinations and the promise of further fiscal and monetary stimulus helped the market to overlook concerns about virus driven restrictions. Stimulus expectations rose after the surprise Democratic sweep in the run-off election for the two Senate seats in Georgia, which completed Biden’s blue wave.
Over the month though concerns about delays to the supply of vaccines to Europe increased, raising the possibility that the route out of the pandemic may be longer than expected.
Despite delays in Europe the vaccine rollout is progressing well in the UK and US and there was positive news from both the Novavax and Johnson & Johnson vaccine trials, particularly in relation to preventing hospitalisation.
Robust economic data and a moderate winter wave of Covid infections continued to support risky assets in north Asia. Strong returns from Greater China contributed to the outperformance of emerging market equities.
Defensive assets, such as high quality bonds, were on the back foot in the first weeks of the month. But as risk assets sold off, government bonds regained some of their losses, with the ten year treasury ending January down 1%.
Shane Fereday DipPFS