Key points from the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget

  • Bethany Howe
  • 2 November 2021 16:05

Chancellor Rishi Sunak presented the 2021 Autumn Budget on Wednesday 27 October. A range of measures and changes were announced, including the reform of alcohol duty, changes to the business rates system in England and increases in the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW) rates.

Here, we take a look at some of the main announcements in greater detail.


Changes to fuel duty and alcohol duty

In his Autumn Budget speech, Chancellor Rishi Sunak made significant changes to fuel duty and duty rates on alcohol.

The government will keep fuel duty frozen at 57.95p per litre across the UK for 2022/23 in recognition of the significant cost that fuel represents for households and businesses.

The alcohol duty system will undergo a major simplification. Drinks will be taxed in proportion to their alcohol content, making the system 'fairer and more conducive to product innovation' in response to evolving consumer tastes. Additionally, a new relief that recognises the importance of pubs and supports responsible drinking will be introduced, with duty rates on draft beer and cider being cut by 5%.

A radical simplification of the system will see the number of main rates reduced from 15 to just six. All alcohol categories will move to a standardised set of bands, with rates for products between 1.2%-3.4% alcohol by volume (ABV), 3.5-8.4% ABV, 8.5-22% ABV and above 22% ABV. The government stated that above 8.5% ABV, all products across all categories will pay the same rate of duty if they have the same proportion of alcohol content.

Alterations to the business rates system in England

Business rates saw change in the Budget: the Chancellor unveiled a new temporary business rates relief in England for 2022/23 for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties, worth almost £1.7 billion. The government stated that the reform of business rates will make the system ‘fairer, more responsive and more supportive of investment’.

Record rise in level of public research and development (R&D) investment

Public research and development (R&D) investment will increase to a record level of £20 billion by 2024/25. Combined with R&D tax reliefs, which the government intends to modernise and refocus, total government R&D support as a proportion of GDP is forecasted to increase from 0.7% in 2018 to 1.1% in 2024/25.

Rises in the NLW and the NMW

The Chancellor confirmed that the government will increase the NLW to £9.50 per hour from 1 April 2022, and the NMW to £9.18. In addition to this, the government will reduce the taper rate in Universal Credit from 63% to 55% in order to help low income households keep more of what they earn.

Extra funding for the devolved nations

In the Autumn Budget the Chancellor announced that the Scottish government will benefit from a £4.6 billion per year funding boost; the Welsh government stand to benefit from a £2.5 billion per year funding boost; and the Northern Ireland Executive will receive a £1.6 billion per year funding boost.

Allocation of the first round of the Levelling Up Fund

As part of the Levelling Up Fund, the Chancellor committed £1.7 billion of local investment in local areas, whilst the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will provide £2.6 billion to help people ‘get into jobs and get on in life’.


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