Rishi’s under pressure to balance the books in next week’s Budget… Here’s 10 cheap and cheerful ways he could put a smile on our faces

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  • Doubling the Christmas pension bonus to £20 would result in approximately £130m. will cost
  • A 5% cut in the beer fee would cut the price of a pint by 2p and cost only £54m. will be
  • Removing the 5% VAT on household energy bills would cost the average household £60. will save
  • Scraping stamp duty for downsizers could free up family-sized housing

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The nation needs to cheer. Shortly after a global health catastrophe, and we are already facing a cost of life crisis as bills and prices climb.

What’s more, Chancellor Rishi Sunak could deliver more misery with his autumn budget statement on Wednesday next week.

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The country’s finances are facing unprecedented pressure after the government spent hundreds of billions during the pandemic.

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Balancing act: Chancellor Rishi Sunak may pile up misery next week with his autumn budget statement on Wednesday

But here, Money Mail points out, there are some gifts that can help families better manage a foggy winter—at a reduced cost to the Treasury.

1. Double the Christmas Bonus

Those claiming benefits, including state pension, have received a £10 Christmas bonus every year since 1972.

Yet if the value of this festive gift had increased with inflation, it would now cost £145.

Doubling this to £20 would cost the government at least an additional £130 million annually – a fraction of the hundreds of billions of pounds the chancellor has.

Cheers: A 5 percent cut in beer fees will reduce the price of a pint by 2p

Cheers: A 5 percent cut in beer fees will reduce the price of a pint by 2p

2. Swallow beer price rises

The average pint of lager is expected to cost upwards of £4 as taxes and shortages add to the cost of the pub.

Inflation is due to reach at least 4 percent by the end of the year and the cost of carbon dioxide (CO2), which fuels beer and sodas, is also rising.

Therefore, reduction in liquor duty can help in making the country happy. Rumor has it that Sage is looking at simplifying the liquor tax system, which will save drinkers on the cost of wine and beer.

The British Beer and Pub Association says a 5 per cent cut in beer fees after taking into account new jobs and additional spending would cut the price of a pint by 2p and cost the government just £54m per year.

3. VAT Free Energy Bill

Record wholesale gas prices have pushed up energy bills by hundreds of pounds for millions of us. The government currently collects VAT on domestic energy bills at the rate of 5 per cent.

Eliminating it completely would cost the government around £1.7 billion and save the average family more than £60.

There has been talk this week that the Chancellor is considering it to ease the pressure on struggling families.

Adding a £1 million third prize to NS&I's monthly premium bond would cost £12 million per year

Adding a £1 million third prize to NS&I’s monthly premium bond would cost £12 million per year

4. Boost Premium Bond Rewards

The Treasury may add a third £1 million prize to NS&I’s monthly premium bond draw to mark the 65th anniversary of the country’s preferred savings product.

Increasing the prize money in this way would cost £12 million per year.

Sarah Coles, of investment service Hargreaves Lansdowne, says: ‘By far the most common reason people like premium bonds is the outsized chance of a major prize, so improving odds, even for just a short period, can happen at times like these. I will offer hope when it is in short supply elsewhere.’

The chancellor may also increase NS&I’s fundraising goal to allow it to offer better rewards.

If the Savings Branch of the Government raises the rewards rate by 0.5 percent, a saver with a maximum deposit of £50,000 can expect to win an additional £250 per year.

5. Child Benefit Charge Change

Currently families in which a parent earns more than £50,000 have to start paying back some child benefit cash.

If a parent earns more than £60,000 they will have to pay it all. This benefit exceeds £1,000 per year for the first child and over £800 for each child thereafter.

But there has been no increase in the high income child benefit fee limit of £50,000 since it was introduced in 2013.

This now catches basic-rate taxpayers as the higher-rate taxpayer limit has been increased to £50,270.

If the Chancellor raised the inflation threshold to £60,000, more than 350,000 families would be spared, at a cost of less than £1 billion a year to the government.

First time buyers using Lifetime Isa to save for home deposits can withdraw up to £4,000 in a year

First time buyers using Lifetime Isa to save for home deposits can withdraw up to £4,000 in a year

6. Assistance for Accommodation

First-time buyers who use Lifetime ISA to save for a home deposit can withdraw up to £4,000 per year and receive a 25 percent bonus from the government.

Sean McCann of insurer NFU Mutual says doubling the savings allowance and increasing the annual bonus to £2,000 would be a welcome incentive for those struggling to climb the wealth ladder.

More than 223,000 savers have lifetime ISA, so doubling the allowance could cost the government more than £2.2 million per year.

7. A Great Green Rate

Savers have been promised to invest in green bonds with NS&I but the rate on offer is yet to be revealed.

Ms Coles says: ‘Setting interest rates on green bonds at market-leading levels would be a wonderful boon for savers struggling to find much to get excited about in the savings market at this time.

After six more years of rock bottom rates, savers need this pick-me-up even more, so a generous market-leading rate will be a shot in the hand.’

Raising the minimum employer contribution rate to 5 percent would mean more than ten million people would get a 2 percent pay increase

Raising the minimum employer contribution rate to 5 percent would mean more than ten million people would get a 2 percent pay increase

8. Pension Increment

Auto enrollment has helped more than ten million employees start saving for retirement.

But employers are bound to pay only 3 per cent of the employee’s salary while the employee has to pay at least 5 per cent.

Raising the minimum employer contribution rate to 5 per cent would mean over a million people would get a 2 per cent pay hike – though that would be delayed until…

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