The Autumn Manifesto made it just that: Winter is coming for our personal finances and despite what the Chancellor claims, it’s the people in the middle who are feeling the cold right now.
If you rent or have young children, this is particularly the case – yet there was nothing specifically in Thursday’s ad for you.
British workers are living through two decades of stagnant wages, a pressure on real income on a scale not seen since the 1820s, according to an analysis by the Resolution Foundation.
The chancellor provided support for the poorest and relief for the rich (there were some token tax adjustments, but none of the rumored villains).
Meanwhile, those in the middle face higher council tax, energy bills and prolonged pressure from higher income taxes as thresholds enter a hard freeze.
The pain will be especially sharp if you are on the cusp of a frozen threshold. Those earning £50,000 – just below the threshold for tax at the highest rate – are likely to pay nearly £2,000 a year in extra income tax by 2028, accountants Moore Kingston Smith calculates, factoring in the potential effects of ‘drawdown’. financial” like inflation raises wages.
If you are a single parent, this will be more expensive because the child benefit is canceled. A similar cliff edge awaits at the £100,000 threshold where the personal allowance is reduced and access to ‘free’ childcare hours is lost.
Young professional workers in London and the South East are feeling a growing sense of impending financial doom – and politicians need to be heard.
“I’m a middle-class professional who’s reasonably well paid, so I feel guilty about complaining because I’m better off than many others,” says Max, a reader in his early 30s who messaged me after a recent podcast.
He rented with his friends in a shared house, and was leading negotiations with the landlord after he was offered a 30 percent rent increase. He has lost all hope of ever being able to afford a home and will struggle to afford a one-bedroom apartment with his partner.
A salary raise would be welcome, but it would have to be quite huge to cover the increase in his cost of living, which is increasing at a faster rate than his friends who have mortgages. And the coming recession is adding to his tension.
Nearly one in five households in the UK rent privately, and across England, rents are rising at twice the rate recorded between 2018 and 2021. Those who can’t afford to buy are at a disadvantage. “Even if you don’t move, rents are going up because current shortages are dictating market rates,” says real estate expert Henry Pryor.
First time buyers are not expected to benefit from the current market woes. He predicts that “nine out of ten of my recent new business inquiries have decided to hold off until next year, and it will be Easter before sellers accept the price change.”
The amount of floor space that renters get for their money has dropped by about a fifth over the past 20 years, and if they need to move, finding a new place is a nightmare.
Spareroom.com reports that there are currently seven renters chasing every available room in London. Expect something similar to a job interview if you apply for a shared home (a friend even asked about their resume).
I met a 20-something TV producer this week who has been trying for months to move from east to west London, but rooms and flats anywhere near her price range are being snapped up online in minutes. Since moving jobs, she spends three hours a day traversing the capital. The homeowner just sent out eviction papers because he wants to sell it.
Some pundits expect more “casual owners” to be induced to sell before Hunt’s cuts to capital gains provisions kick in next April, which means the market could get tighter.
No doubt other landlords would like to get out before the tenants reform bill makes its way through Parliament (DoJ data shows evictions are at their highest level since records began in 1999).
Those in their 20s and 30s who manage to purchase a home face a different set of financial pressures.
With the Office for Budget Responsibility projecting a 9 percent drop in home prices, new buyers are more at risk of negative equity, and higher loan-to-value ratios are making mortgage rates more affordable.
This only adds to the sense of foreboding when fixed-price deals come to an end.
Some homeowners may cut back on vacations, expensive purchases, and rack plans for home improvement—but I know others who put off starting a family, well aware of the high cost of childcare.
Others — including Jess, a recent guest on the Money Clinic podcast — time the conception of their second child to explicitly coincide with the start of their 30 “free” hours of custodial care for their first born.
With no word on promised (albeit fleeting) childcare reforms in the stricken ‘mini’ budget, and nothing yet on the horizon to replace Help to Buy, surely this represents a political opportunity for Labor to exploit?
The promise of free or better subsidized child care for children under the age of three would be a guaranteed vote winner with the younger generation, as would any state-backed program to spur rental home construction.
Before you ask what magical money tree could fund that bounty, look no further than the homes you currently live in.
One of the many sacred cows the chancellor was said to prepare for slaughter in preparation for the fall statement was the roofing or removal of the main relief from the residence.
Owners and second home owners are required to pay capital gains tax upon sale, but there is no such tax for homeowners sitting on huge amounts of residential equity after surfing the wave of low interest rates.
You might shudder at the thought of this kind of relief being tampered with by a future government – as someone who works hard to pay off their mortgage, I certainly would. But the financial gap between owners and renters is growing deeper, and policymakers simply cannot continue to ignore it.
When you look at this in terms of those being charged ever increasing amounts with little security of tenure I can think of 8 million tenants who would have no problem voting for him.
Claire Barrett is the consumer editor of the Financial Times and author of What They Don’t Teach You About Money. firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter and Instagram: @employee