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Not Quite The Answer We Were Looking For

Ritchie Clapson, co-founder of propertyCEO, comments

Well, I’m still not entirely clear on how we arrived again at THAT time of year. I’m pretty sure it was only six months ago that I last wished you compliments of the season, but then I do feel that things have started to become a little blurry. It’s not that I’ve taken to a mid-morning sherry; I’m referring to the fact that the once distinct and separate calendar festivals are in danger of becoming one big amorphous blob. For example, I went into a well-known high-street retailer last month, and they had both a Halloween Department and a Christmas Department open at the same time. I’m pretty sure there used to be a gap between the two; I don’t recall ever simultaneously carving a pumpkin and decorating the tree. But such are the pressures driving the world of retail, I suppose.

That whole time of year thing hasn’t been helped by the clocks going back. The rather depressing realisation that anything that happens after about 4.30pm must now take place in the dark definitely makes for a wintry mood. But don’t get me wrong, I’m not Christmas-bashing. In fact, I love Christmas; I just don’t want the extended play version. Cynically, I rather expect that someone will soon launch an advent calendar that starts in October. Clearly, this won’t relate to Advent in its religious sense; it will more likely relate to the arrival of Christmas cards in Tesco (but if it’s a chocolate advent calendar, count me in).

That said, this inexorable march towards the bowels of winter was briefly halted by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, who recently revealed his Autumn Statement. Technically, November is an autumn month, so he just dipped under the wire and gave us, nominally at least, the fleeting impression that the last of summer’s leaves might still be clinging to the trees, although my lawn tells a different story. And, given where we are in the political calendar, everyone was expecting the Chancellor to dole out a few early Christmas presents, which indeed proved to be the case. It’s the biggest tax giveaway in 30 years if you believe some of the headlines. Yet, bizarrely, we are still apparently going to be taxed at a higher rate than anyone has ever been before.

Stealth taxes are, of course, the weapon of choice for any discerning Chancellor. Freezing a threshold or two makes it sound like you’re not doing anything too draconian – in fact, it sounds like it’s a case of ‘no change’. Yet the reality is very different, as the millions of people that now find themselves higher rate taxpayers and IHT payers can testify. But one of the things I like about an Autumn Statement is that it’s a bit like a film festival. There are several items that get top billing and which everyone raves about. But then tucked away in the margins are several other offerings which, while less mainstream, can be every bit as entertaining. And this Statement proved to be no exception. Way down on page 76 were several items relating to housing, which, at face value, all sounded like they could be quite interesting. 

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