The country was surprised last week by the Conservatives winning a majority and staying on in power. Fear of change and a need for stability may have been at the back of many voters’ minds even though austerity measures may continue. Now it remains to be seen whether they will come through with the promises they made in the lead up to the election.
One of the Conservatives’ big ticket policies was to take the family home out of inheritance tax (IHT). David Cameron pledged to create an extra tax-free band worth £175,000, a combined £350,000 with your spouse, which would apply to main residences. This would bring the total nil-rate band available on a property to £1 million and remove many people from the tax band altogether.
Cameron argued that the pledge would be funded by a cut to pension tax relief for higher rate tax-payers and those earning £150,000 or more. This means that additional rate tax payers could only receive full relief on £10,000 of pension contributions per year rather than the £40,000 they currently enjoy.
There should also be no increases in income tax or national insurance contributions and, in the final Prime Minister’s Question Time, Cameron promised not to increase VAT either. As a result, the tax-free personal allowance should increase to £12,500 by 2020 and the higher rate threshold to £50,000.
The Tories maintained their commitment to the State pension triple-lock guarantee, which means it would rise by the highest of inflation, earnings or 2.5%, and promised not to touch benefits such as the winter fuel allowance, free bus passes, free prescriptions and television licences.
Finally, the consultation on second hand annuities inspired by Steve Webb (who lost his seat) also remains open until June, although it remains to be seen how George Osborne will act on any recommendations.