Supplement 26 Nov 23 – Autumn Statement Breakdown/Takedown

Nov 26, 2023

“The (music) industry is a world of smoke and mirrors: they tell you exactly what they think you want to hear. And they are bare-faced lying.” – Kelis, music artist (brackets are mine – the point is, the same applies to politics and economics!)

 

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Welcome to the Supplement everyone. Another juicy week on the back of last week’s, as 2024, and the impending election, starts to heat up. Did you know that next year is the busiest for elections in Western nations around the world for 60 years? (I’m assuming the incumbents don’t go for the fingernails approach and have the election in January 2025).

 

I’m going to whizz through the macro roundup before getting into a good, trademark, line-by-line of the statement, although only for the exec summary (the full document is 110+ pages, so I won’t put everyone through that!)

 

Labour productivity is down 0.2% quarter-on-quarter in the initial figures. This is perhaps no surprise since wages are above price inflation, and it is a simple case of the denominator going up more than the numerator is – no more or less than that. Expect more of this given what’s in the budget!

 

The flash (real-time) Purchasing Managers Indices (PMIs) were also out this week and it seems these were the event, rather than the budget, to reverse the recent great progress made in the bond markets. I had spoken of the journey under 4% on the 5-year gilt, and the resistance level – and that was shattered on Thursday (rather than Wednesday) – even though my feeling was that the statement was the event that shattered hopes of conquering inflation which were rife only last week after the “great news” around CPI, which I broke down into its component parts in last week’s supplement.

 

The 5y closed the week at 4.18%, an advance of 20 bps, on the back of the services PMI returning to 50+ (growth), suggesting that services inflation has no particular event to temper its aggressive year-on-year growth. The manufacturing PMI was also well above forecasts, meaning that the path is a return to growth, from the PMI perspective, just about, after 3 months of the composite index being well below 50. This is very similar to the US path around 10-11 months ago, and the US has returned to steady growth after that particular wobble – all this adds up with the delayed cycle imposed by slower monetary policy activity (and, overall, a much less aggressive approach to economic issues than our friends across the pond). In short – good for the economy, bad for rates – higher for longer scores another tally in the chart. The bond bears were back with a vengeance and as I said last week, reasons to be under 4% on the 5-year gilt were limited at this time. The treacle continues…..

 

The governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey, also addressed the National Farmers Union this week – and I had a look at the speech. Bailey highlighted that supermarkets assured us prices were coming back down on food well before they were, and that farmers had pointed out that energy, fuel, fertiliser, feed, haulage, and labour were all increasing significantly, and were more sceptical – and were proven to be correct.


It made me think about switching those farmer-related inputs to energy, fuel, insurance, materials and labour – and the impact that there has been on rents in the PRS (and across the board), of course.

 

Consumer prices and agricultural prices have moved together – mostly – although in recent years consumer prices have raced away somewhat, as incomes allowed people to afford more than the essentials. Food is 12% or so of the consumption basket – used to measure inflation – compared to over 36% of the basket in 1950. Alcohol and tobacco is also down from 17.5% of the basket to 4% today. Some social shift.

 

That 12% of course breaks down by decile – the poorest 10% spend 27% of their income on food – compared to 6% in the richest 10%. That perhaps won’t be too much of a surprise, but I thought it highlighted the disparity well since it is the one staple other than energy and shelter (which often go together, of course). It’s also nice to know that even the poorest 10% only spend 75% of the income that the average person did in 1950 on food – which puts things into historical context.

 

Bailey finished the speech with a very clear message though – “Let me be very clear, it is far too early to be thinking about rate cuts.” And he didn’t even know what was in the budget – or did he……you’d have to think he’d have a reasonable brief, but the speech was delivered on Monday but likely written a fair while before that.

 

Anyway…..about that budget. I did exclaim, a couple of times, whilst watching the speech live at the office: “liar!”. The twisting of the facts was at its very best, and as someone who has voted across the board and likely poorer in the face of a Labour government, I’d like to think I’m relatively non-partisan. I certainly called Rayner an idiot this week when she announced “day one banning of section 21” and speculated there could be 50,000 s21s, or more, served in the runup to the election as soon as a date is announced.

 

Here’s the exec summary, with emphasis on my comments (bold type for the readers, my own emphasis for the listeners):

 

In January 2023 the Prime Minister set out three economic priorities: to halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt. Clever way of ignoring the other two that are absolutely floundering, but also fair enough, since this is about the economy!

 

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation has now more than halved from a peak of over 11% last autumn to 4.6% in October 2023. I’ve done this to death, but this is factually accurate.

 

The economy has recovered from the pandemic more quickly than first thought, grown more than expected this year, and is forecast to grow in every year of the forecast period. Mmmm. Expected by who? The OBR (Office for Budgetary Responsibility, who produce the forecasts that the Treasury uses) – sure – although the March report was torn a new one by me in the Supplement at the time, as it was clear hogwash.

 

Underlying debt is forecast to fall as a proportion of GDP from 2027-28 and the government has greater headroom against its fiscal rules than at Spring Budget 2023. The bad news is, that’s always the forecast. “It will be alright in the future”. The 2023 forecast was also incredibly bearish, and unnecessarily so – as I said at the time – so there is no surprise that it wasn’t as bad as published back then.

 

The government must continue to bear down on inflation, and the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts that government policies in the Autumn Statement will reduce inflation next year. Can I take the first of the opportunities to say that the government blame the Bank of England whenever they can, and also have absolutely not tried to continue to bear down on inflation via fiscal policy – which they do control, the levers of taxes and the likes, in this budget. Not at all.

 

With inflation falling and the economy and public finances stabilised after a series of unprecedented shocks, the government can now take the long-term decisions necessary to strengthen the economy and build a brighter future. Probably fair, although the next unprecedented shock is just round the corner, I’m sure.

 

The government is focusing on five areas: reducing debt; cutting tax and rewarding hard work; backing British business; building domestic and sustainable energy; and delivering world-class education. The fifth one is particularly difficult to swallow. The spend is not what it needs to be to get anywhere near world-class education, anytime before university. The rest makes good reading (or a good soundbite).

 

The Autumn Statement takes a responsible approach to public spending to keep debt falling, cuts taxes for working people and businesses, reforms welfare to help people into work and removes barriers to business investment to boost growth. Particularly those who lean right, but the majority are I’m sure supportive of this approach.

 

The OBR estimates that government decisions at the Autumn Statement will boost business investment by £14 billion and bring a further 78,000 people into employment by the end of the forecast period. The £14 billion is frankly pocket change compared to GDP – although we’d rather have it than not – but underinvestment has been horrific over the past decade or so. Some was inevitable because of the Great Financial Crisis – but a lot was also caused by Quantitative Easing. The 78,000 jobs are not trivial, of course, and that’s great (for a forecast, from an outfit who have not proven themselves to be the best forecasters, of late).

 

This means that the combined impacts of the Spring and Autumn policy measures will increase the number of people in work by around 200,000 by the end of the forecast. Let’s hope so.

 

Together, Autumn Statement policies are forecast to increase the economy’s potential output in the medium term by 0.3%. This is in addition to a 0.2% increase to potential GDP resulting from announcements at Spring Budget 2023. Although these look fairly tiddly, these are massive numbers. That would be £100bn or more. 

 

These are the two largest increases to labour supply and potential GDP resulting from fiscal policy the OBR has ever scored in a medium-term forecast. It feels like the opposite of Truss/Kwarteng. Kwarteng literally gave the OBR the cold shoulder where it feels like Hunt’s treasury have almost cooked the books with them. Let’s hope it is better than that and I’m being overly cynical.

 

Reducing debt: 

Reducing debt and borrowing is essential to controlling inflation, keeping mortgage rates affordable and funding public services sustainably. I don’t really believe this is true at all. In fact, inflating the debt away – the best of a bad bunch – is secretly what’s going on here, in stages. Let’s face it. 

 

After accounting for decisions at the Autumn Statement, borrowing is forecast to be lower this year, next year and on average over the forecast period compared to the OBR’s March forecast. That’s a bit like playing a bit better than when you lost 8-0 in the last game, the March forecast was so miserable.

 

Underlying debt is also lower as a percentage of GDP, by an average of 2.1 percentage points across the forecast. Putting this into context, this is a couple of per cent on debt of 100% of GDP. 

 

The government is on track to meet its debt and borrowing fiscal rules with greater headroom against both rules compared to spring. As before, no surprise.

 

Underlying debt begins to fall from 2027-28 and then falls to 92.8% of GDP in the target year (2028-29). The debt rule is met with £13 billion headroom, double the £6.5 billion held in spring. The borrowing rule is met three years ahead of target and with £61.5 billion headroom, an increase of £22.3 billion since the spring. More of the same. It’s going in the right direction though, for a change.

 

The government has taken difficult but necessary decisions to get debt falling and ensure our public services continue to operate effectively in the face of financial and operational pressures. I’m not sure this is really true – they’ve controlled wages this year, but guaranteed another fight next year with the way they’ve negotiated. It’s almost as if they’ve got a plan here…….

 

The Autumn Statement reaffirms the commitments made at Autumn Statement 2022 to make available up to £14.1 billion for the NHS and adult social care and provide an additional £2 billion for schools in both 2023-24 and 2024-25. Although they aren’t clear here, this suggests that these rises are real terms i.e. after inflation.

 

Total departmental spending will be £85 billion higher in real terms by 2028-29 than at the start of this Parliament (2019-20). As a proportion of income, households on the lowest incomes have benefited the most from government decisions on tax, welfare and public spending since Autumn Statement 2022. Well, they’ve been the biggest comparative beneficiaries, bearing in mind that nearly everyone is actually worse off in real terms than they were since Autumn Statement ‘22.

 

Tackling waste and inefficiency has always been at the heart of the government’s approach to public spending, but high inflation continues to put additional pressure on departmental budgets. The real cuts needed after the pandemic bloating simply haven’t been approached with the correct vigour, mostly because of a Big Boris Big Government legacy and a lack of appetite to do it whilst strikes are plentiful.

 

The government has therefore driven even greater efficiencies than those assumed at Spending Review 2021 to manage down these pressures and ensure departments can live within their settlements and deliver the service outcomes the public expect. I think we’d need some pretty hardcore evidence of this to buy this statement.

 

The government continues to tackle tax non-compliance and is introducing the largest package of measures since 2016. This is forecast to raise an additional £5 billion of tax revenue over the next five years, which would otherwise have gone unpaid, to fund vital public services. Or – Fraud has been rife during and after the pandemic, and HMRC now has some capacity and we can try and sort it. Let’s see.

 

While day-to-day spending will continue to grow above inflation in future years, public spending faces many pressures. The government must get the most out of every pound of taxpayers‘ money by boosting productivity and focusing spending on the government’s priorities. The only way to do this is to increase output over and above the rise in input costs/labour costs.

 

The government continues to drive forward the Public Sector Productivity Programme to reimagine the way public services are delivered. So far, in 5 months since its announcement, the first deliverable has been completed – better ways of measuring productivity. 5 months. Yes, welcome to the public sector. More of a gentle nudge than a drive, I’m sure you’d agree?

 

Cutting tax and rewarding hard work: 

The government has had to take difficult decisions to restore the stability of the public finances in wake of the economic shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine. True enough.

 

But with inflation falling, growth more resilient than expected this year and debt forecast to reduce, the government can now return some of that money to taxpayers and ensure people keep more of what they earn. They can, or will it just be robbing Peter to pay Paul, or National Insurance to pay Income Tax – if you listened to the speech, you’ll already know the answer.

 

The government is cutting taxes for over 29 million working people. The main rate of Class 1 employee National Insurance contributions (NICs) will be cut from 12% to 10% from 6 January 2024, with employees benefiting from January onwards. There’s, surprisingly, but consistent with Sunak’s approach, another benefit for the lower paid/everyone in work but below the higher rate threshold. Should be applauded – I support it, although I think it gives the incumbents very little political capital. But we will find out, of course!

 

This means the average worker on £35,400 will receive a tax cut in 2024-25 of over £450. This will reward work and sustainably grow the economy, providing a combined rate of income tax and NICs for an employee paying the basic rate of tax of 30% – the lowest since the 1980s. Rarely do you see admission that the basic rate of tax is 32% not 20% (currently) and will drop to 30%. Fair call.

 

The government is also cutting taxes for the self-employed from 6 April 2024. The government is reducing the main rate of Class 4 self-employed NICs from 9% to 8%, and will abolish the outdated and needlessly complex Class 2 self-employed NICs, reforming and simplifying the tax system. I heard this and thought – I bet they are cutting these because it costs as much to measure and collect them as they actually collect in revenue. Still, if that is the case, then that is the sort of pragmatic solution that Jeremy Hunt does bring to the table with his business head on.

 

Taken together these changes will benefit around 2 million self-employed individuals and result in an average self employed person on £28,200 saving £350 in 2024-25. These measures are hard to criticise from the people’s perspective – but don’t get lulled into a false sense of security!

 

These tax cuts are part of the government’s long-term strategy for growing the economy and getting more people into work, ensuring that the UK has the labour market it needs for its future. This is where I screamed “liar” I believe. Tax is not being cut overall – it is going to swell massively with signficant pay rises but frozen tax bands for so many taxes including personal allowance, higher rate, and all bands above. It IS disproportionately helping the lower paid – which is creditable, but Hunt can’t bring himself to say it like that, of course – that would upset the right of the party quite significantly (and sound quite strange, coming from a Blue, let’s face it).

 

The OBR forecast these changes will increase the number of people in employment by 28,000 by 2028-29, alongside a further substantial economic benefit from those in work increasing their hours. I suspect again this is a bit naughty. The average full-time worker is working a few hours less than pre-pandemic, because of (mostly) pandemic-inspired factors. These are simply expected to correct.

 

The government is delivering on its commitment to end hourly low pay. From 1 April 2024, the National Living Wage (NLW) will increase by 9.8% to £11.44 with the age threshold lowered from 23 to 21 years old. This is gigantic and also dichotomous. The threshold is now very much “in the market” in terms of interfering with the clearing price for labour. You’d expect more unemployment (on top of the cyclical unemployment that’s already started to appear on the back of the rate hikes) and also, you’d expect this is significantly inflationary. What’s the other side of the coin for property investors? Rent affordability will be significantly boosted. Is there a third side of the coin? (Must be some coin) – afraid so. If this is inflationary (or certainly less disinflationary) then rates must remain higher for longer in the absence of a recession of significance.

 

This represents an increase of over £1,800 to the annual earnings of a full-time worker on the NLW and is expected to benefit over 2.7 million low paid workers. I suspect this is a signficant underestimate because there will be several million more who are currently paid below £11.44 p.h. Who are either pegged, somewhat, to minimum, or will have to get a significant increase either way. I’m guessing they don’t have the data, otherwise he would be sure to claim that as well!

 

The government is reforming the welfare system so it better supports people into work where they are able, focusing on the long-term sick and disabled, and long-term unemployed. The government’s Back to Work Plan, supported by over £2.5 billion in funding over the next five years, is an ambitious new programme to help people look for and stay in work, manage their health conditions, and stem the flow into sickness related inactivity. This is funding that would make a limited difference in the NHS, even though that’s where the true investment needs to go in order to fix the long-term sickness issues. Waiting lists up, sickness up – no rocket science here, just causation and correlation.

 

There are now a record 2.6 million people who are economically inactive due to long-term sickness and disability, almost half a million more than before the pandemic. The government is taking steps to reform the fit note process to support more people to resume work after a period of illness and expanding the Universal Support programme that matches those with health conditions and disabilities into vacancies. This sounds like more traditional Tory rhetoric, but also I’m sure the majority would agree that holes in the system have appeared thanks to Covid and many know someone who has taken advantage. It is always a thorny subject – because a large percentage will be genuine of course – but overall, I do believe people will behave as they are incentivized. It’s something I’ve observed my entire working life.

 

The government is also expanding the NHS Talking Therapies programme and Individual Placement and Support to help people with mental health conditions. It’s been disgusting to me of late that the breathing space rules are seemingly only used abusively, to buy time for tenants not paying rent intentionally. It is such a shame. We are decades behind on mental health compared to physical health, and this should be supported – NOT abused.

 

The government will work with employers and business representatives to develop and promote best employment practices to support employees with health and disability issues. The government is reforming the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) so that more individuals, such as those with limited mobility and mental health conditions, receive the right support to find work where they can, rather than being automatically deemed unable to work or look for work. This seems mostly targeted at the traditional Conservative voter.

 

To better help the long-term unemployed into work, the government is expanding Additional Jobcentre Support, extending and expanding the Restart programme in England and Wales, and strengthening sanctions for those who choose not to engage with measures that help them find work. Classic vote-winning Conservative chat – and, generally, I am on side (as an aside). In terms of real economic significance – minimal, to be generous.

 

For those that cannot work for legitimate reasons there must always be a safety net. The government will uprate all working age benefits for 2024-25 in full, by September 2023 CPI inflation of 6.7%, and will continue to protect pensioner incomes by maintaining the Triple Lock and uprating the basic State Pension, new State Pension and Pension Credit standard minimum guarantee for 2024-25 in line with average earnings growth of 8.5%. This was speculated not to happen, but these are the standard obligations in terms of benefits (and I for one would support them, absolutely, within the context of the existing welfare state which needs reform) – the triple lock is a ridiculous policy that will destroy long-term pension viability in the UK and the sooner it is changed, the better – but this needs to be a crossbench solution. Inflation and the last few years show just how ridiculous the triple lock is, but pensioners vote in the greatest numbers and swing elections, and, generally, vote Conservative simply because the older you get, the correlation is that the further to the right your views become. Simply unsustainable in the medium and long term, and fiscally not Conservative at all (which is what annoys me – because I very much tolerate the Blues on the basis of fiscal conservatism, and little else!)

 

In response to the energy crisis, the government provided one of the largest support packages in Europe. It was one thing that Truss did absolutely correctly, although the thinking had already been done for her before she took the helm, of course. Why did they HAVE to provide one of the largest support packages in Europe? Pathetic energy strategy since the 70s. 

 

To further support low-income households with increasing rent costs, the government will raise Local Housing Allowance rates to the 30th percentile of local market rents in April 2024. This was expected by many – my opinion of the level of care that the incumbents have for tenants had almost given up on this. However, the terrible state of play – a market where councils, providers and the likes are paying 35% or more above the LHA rate in order to get properties because market rents have moved so much – have meant that the money is being spent anyway, and no doubt the bean-counters at the Treasury have worked out that if they turn around and say “no, the rates have gone up already, there is nothing in budgets ABOVE LHA” they will actually save money, especially as rents are, of course, forecast to race forwards over the next 18 months. Rates will be set in Jan 2024 at the percentile (and I thought they might consider putting the percentile down to 20 or 25, and I’m not sure why they didn’t) – and the biggest beneficiary is the tenant who could no longer have ANY realistic chance at a private sector property on the LHA rates set in January 2020. This is this week’s image and just LOOK at the legend on there – image prepared by Savills using VOA data and April 2023’s rightmove rents for new listings) which have moved on around ANOTHER 5% since then, of course.

 

This will benefit 1.6 million low-income households, who will be around £800 a year better off on average in 2024-25. We need to be cautious as to “better off”, simply because of inflation. Until the chat is all in real terms, it becomes impossible to trust anything that anyone says – this isn’t a direct reflection on Hunt, but he should bear this in mind IF integrity matters more than political bluster (which, of course, to him, it doesn’t).

 

Taken together, support to households to help with the high cost of living is worth £104 billion over 2022-23 to 2024-25, or £3,700 per household on average. It’s a really interesting tactic. People have been squeezed – not putting LHA up last year was nearly criminal and overall will absolutely have cost administrations money overall because of homelessness that will have been a direct result – but people do think on a relative basis with a recency bias, so things WILL feel better from April 2023.

 

Backing British business:

When the economy is growing there are more jobs, higher wages and increasing living standards. Yup.

 

Since 2010 the UK economy has grown the third fastest in the G7, faster than France, Germany, Japan and Italy. This is true, although to bring in the previous administrations when Sunak spends most of his time either passively or openly criticising them, is interesting, and is an effort to paste over the performance since the last election, which is pathetic in comparison to the G7 – joint last with Germany, and the only 2 of the 7 to be smaller in real terms as to Q1 2023 (and we’ve hardly torn it up since then, although Germany have done even worse).  

 

Unprecedented shocks have hit the economy since 2020, but with stability restored, the government is backing British business to drive long-term economic growth. Let’s hope that’s not just lip service, because it won’t come from bloated government, waste and crony capitalism!

 

The government believes the best way to grow the economy is not through higher borrowing and untargeted support but by creating the conditions for the private sector to thrive by removing barriers to investment and cutting taxes for businesses. Tried and tested. 

 

Business investment in the UK has been lower than other leading advanced economies at 9.5% of nominal GDP over the last 10 years, compared to 11.2% on average in France, Germany and the US. Addressing this gap is crucial to improving UK productivity and so the government is introducing an ambitious package of measures to unlock business investment. The productivity puzzle hinges a lot on this poor investment, but has been going on for more than a decade. We are on course for two lost decades (if you cherrypick 2007/8 as the start point).

 

The UK already has one of the most competitive business tax regimes of any major economy, with the lowest headline rate of corporation tax in the G7. Cheeky after the recent rises, but still true.

 

In 2021, the government introduced the super deduction to incentivise business investment. Since then, investment growth has been faster in the UK than any other country in the G7. At Spring Budget 2023 the government went further, replacing this with full expensing for three years from 1 April 2023, allowing businesses to write off the full cost of qualifying plant and machinery investment. The government is now making this change permanent. Worth over £10 billion a year, full expensing is the biggest business tax cut in modern British history. This isn’t a votewinner, but it is a good move – and a good example of the level of engineering (and what collaboration WITH the OBR can do, compared to the idiotic efforts of last year and Hunt’s predecessor)

 

This makes the UK’s capital allowances regime one of the most generous in the world, and the OBR expect this will unlock an additional £14 billion of investment over the forecast period. This will improve the UK’s capital stock, help close the productivity gap and drive sustainable growth. The government is also making changes worth £280 million a year to simplify and improve R&D tax reliefs, helping to drive innovation in the UK. R&D is proven to work very well and provide excellent returns for the government for the cost of the reliefs. Sensible, wise, good work here.

 

The government is removing barriers to investment in critical infrastructure by reforming the planning system to speed up approvals and setting out a plan to reduce the time it takes for new projects to connect to the grid. Oh, a plan. Great. Did you know that at the moment there’s no time constraint when someone has put in an application for the grid – think of it like planning, the equivalent would be no 3-year commencement rule, and then counting every dwelling ever granted permission for as “units already agreed” and then turning down new developments based on planning granted 6 years ago and as yet undelivered. What a mess. Thankfully there are major upgrade works happening, but, as usual it is reactive, and needs a kick up the backside. GET ON WITH IT!

 

Together these reforms will unlock new commercial developments that will enhance our energy security and help drive the transition to net zero. Quiet on this subject mostly because of Sunak’s recent efforts; personally as I’ve said before I would be putting some more money from the defence budget into energy security, because they are absolutely the same thing. Energy instability is a massive potential banana skin going forward in a world of geopolitical tensions.

 

The government is announcing a business rates support package worth £4.3 billion over the next five years to support small businesses and the high street. The small business multiplier will be frozen for a fourth consecutive year, and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure (RHL) relief will be extended, ensuring the most vulnerable businesses continue to be supported. Have to be supportive of this – again, as so often, the system is no longer fit for purpose but the sledgehammer approach is better than hanging these sectors out to dry. Imagine investment in these sectors at the moment though – on its backside, because year-to-year decisions are not sufficient. More lobbying and more effort needed here.

 

The standard rate multiplier will be uprated in line with CPI inflation. While this will increase business rates bills for some, large retailers are expected to benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds of tax relief per year as a result of full expensing. Small business is feeling it the most – this makes sense, but expect more high profile administration cases as 2024 comes and goes.

 

Businesses need access to capital to grow and invest in the UK. The Autumn Statement builds on the Chancellor’s Mansion House speech with a package of measures to reform the pensions market to unlock investment into high growth sectors and generate increased returns for savers. This is interesting. Savings have benefited faster than borrowers are feeling it, because very few savers were in long-term savings bonds because rates were SO low. Thus, the net impact of interest rates at the moment is to provide much more income to those with savings – generally, the older population, which is also generating more tax of course. This is something I’ll be talking about more, going forward. Pension unlocking has been a large part of Tory strategy for a long time – and makes sense – but, so far, has not seen large degrees of success. Sadly.

 

The government continues to back the growth sectors of the future and is announcing further targeted support for digital technology, green industries, life sciences, advanced manufacturing and creative industries. This includes making available £4.5 billion to unlock investment in strategic manufacturing sectors – auto, aerospace, life sciences and clean energy – which are developing cutting edge technology and driving our transition to net zero. Sad world when 4.5bn sounds like pocket change, but these sectors obviously need significant investment. Targeted makes sense – let’s see the evidence?

 

Together with existing manufacturing support and decarbonisation plans, this funding will level up communities across the country with higher-paid jobs, improve the UK’s energy security, and help grow the sectors of the future. Said it before – net zero and green energy are the great business opportunities of the time. The huge issue for the green lobby and the ideologues is that net zero MEANS growth (and new mines e.g. Lithium), whereas the greens prefer net zero by having NO growth (where the UK indigenous population growth is already at, as an aside, but of course it is because introduce a pandemic and a cost of living crisis and people start having fewer babies, because they are not stupid!)

 

The government is delivering on levelling up and announcing further measures to support growth and investment across the UK, including confirming the next set of investment zones in Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and the East Midlands; and doubling the flexible funding envelope for each investment zone from £80 million to £160 million by extending the programme and associated tax reliefs from five to ten years. Good news. Yet to see anything meaningful on the investment zones – be interested to hear what Andy Burnham and Andy Street have to say, because they are much more truthful than your average cabinet minister in my experience!

 

Together with submitted plans for investment in regulated utilities, the Autumn Statement measures could raise business investment by around £20 billion per year in a decade’s time. The long-term decisions taken at the Autumn Statement keep debt falling, cut taxes and reform welfare to reward hard work, and unlock billions of pounds of business investment to drive sustainable growth. Overall I’m supportive of the surgical approach, and decreasing national insurance rather than income tax is very smart, really, if you want to favour workers rather than landlords or savers (who don’t pay NI, as of right). Not ideal for the landlords, but – nonetheless – clever.

 

That concludes the statement – and whilst I’d love to tuck into the OBR report, that will have to wait until next week as I’ve likely already lost too many readers by this point because this week is so very long. #sorrynotsorry.

 

The property specifics (deep in the 110+ pages) and their likely impact on the market also need some analysis, and will likely take precedent before we get to OBR – and next week will also be the first in December, so we will have some November figures to pore over. There will be some lending figures, and also Nationwide’s November price report, and the money supply update which is keeping me very interested at the moment as it helps us towards disinflation. Looking forward to it already.

 

As a parting thought, there seems to be some thought that the election will come in the spring. I couldn’t disagree more – as I’ve said above, the likelihood is that comparatively (compared to 2022 and 2023) things will feel a LOT better next year for working middle-Britain – and with Labour only looking at a 20-seat majority at the moment when you would expect it was an 80-seat majority, I believe it will be September 2024 – and if I was betting at the current prices, I’d be betting on “no overall majority” – but then I’m looking through the economic lens when saying that, not the emotional or the political. Either way……..Keep Calm and Carry On!

 

By next week, I will also (hopefully) have started an advent-calendar style bunch of video releases, with the first one on December 1st. The goal is to take an economic concept every day, that relates to property, and explain it simply in a 60-second video, and also in a longer-form (but under 5 minute) video as well for those who want to dive a bit deeper. 

 

That’s the carrot – the conditions are my YouTube channel getting to 500 subscribers! I’m on 488 before release of this Supplement on 26th November, so SHOULD get there, but it might be tight……make sure to tell everyone you know who might be interested (or might just do what you say) to subscribe to get me over that milestone please! Links are here to Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpNyNRdTJF87K3rUXEV3s-Q and here to the Propenomix website: https://propenomix.com/ – thanks for supporting me spreading the word, more subscribers will lead to more and better content, and that’s the aim. Until 1st December!