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Autumn Budget - a missed opportunity

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Despite the extra funding pledged in the Spring Budget, social care was conspicuously absent from Philip Hammond’s speech on Wednesday, writes Spencer Gardner.

A planned rise in council tax and an extra £2bn over three years for social care funding announced in Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget has offered him enough breathing space to give social care a wide berth in his Autumn Budget. Given this was emergency funding, best seen as a sticking plaster, this stark omission has led to an outcry from the sector.

The long-awaited green paper proposing reform of social care and support for older people, promised by Theresa May before the snap election and her disastrous dementia tax announcement, was last week also quietly delayed, initially due this autumn, until summer next year. Many are left fearing for the state of social care in the meantime. 

Following the prime minister’s majority-destroying general election manifesto – with the hurried proposals for reform of social care funding – it seems the government has given in to the temptation to evade the challenge of ‘squaring the circle’ of adult social care funding, opting to leave the issue well alone. 

Whilst the government will no doubt hope that NHS giveaways will capture the headlines, social care is struggling to cope, causing a huge knock-on effect on a NHS under pressure to discharge vulnerable patients without adequate community care in place.

With the bleak economic forecast only serving to exacerbate an already looming crisis and the potential political pitfalls, one wonders when just how long it will take any government to finally tackle this issue.

Spencer Gardner is an associate at Coffin Mew Solicitors in the Vulnerable People and Court of Protection team.

 

A number of new measures were announced in the Budget relating to trusts and tax allowances, writes Sarah Roberts, senior associate at Coffin Mew.

It’s really disappointing to see that the government want to consult on trust taxation yet again. We’ve been through so many consultations about this over the last few years and all that’s resulted is greater confusion and even more complex rules. Practitioners have supported and suggested sensible reforms to this area which would genuinely make trust taxation simple, only to be ignored time and time again.

Meanwhile the government pursue this foolish media-hyped vendetta against trusts and their perceived use for tax avoidance. The bottom line is that trusts are vital structures for many modern families to preserve control over the succession of their assets and there simply aren’t many people using them to avoid tax anymore.

The new income and capital gains tax (CGT) allowances are not surprising and follow the trend which is now quite well-established by this government – the increases are a good thing for most people. There are no changes to the headline rates of income and CGT. However, it’s nice to see that the proposed 30 day-window for paying CGT on residential property is to be deferred, because 30 days is just too short – hopefully this will be reconsidered completely.

 

From the Law Society Gazette

The chancellor also reiterated that the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) will have to make £600m in savings by the end of the decade. The Treasury committed to reduce the department’s spending from £6.6bn in 2017/18 to £6bn by 2019/20.

Over the same period, spending on health, defence, the Home Office and education will all rise.

Despite noting several positives in today’s budget, Law Society vice-president Christina Blacklaws said significant cuts to MoJ funding continue to affect the legal sector. Read more 

 

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