It is rare I feel quite as excited about Autumn Statements and Budget Speeches as I did yesterday.
After years of writing about the fact that sharesave limits have not been raised since 1991 (that is I, Employee Benefits and many others more influential than ourselves), I was thrilled to hear the limit was raised to £500 a month. Up from a maximum of £250.
The rise in limits for the share incentive plan (Sip) were also welcome. Employees in listed companies will be able to get a great tax and national insurance break on up to £150 of shares a month (up from £125 a month).
Of course, most of us would find £500 a month going into a sharesave scheme rather steep for our budgets. But will it entice the better paid to have more skin in the game with their own company?
And even at lower buying levels, this is a good way for staff to save through the workplace and boost their earnings at little cost to the employer.
Yesterday, I was also pleased to see the confirmation of the introduction of a tax exemption on amounts of up to £500 paid by employers for medical treatment for employees. This was first announced in the Budget 2013.
The government also announced it will extend the exemption to medical treatments recommended by employer-arranged occupational health services, in addition to those recommended by its new health and work assessment and advisory service, announced in January 2013.
Again, by doing what it can to aid employers in supporting the health of employees, the government is acting where it is needed.
The only announcement that left me slightly bemused was the raising of the age at when the state pension will be paid.
Like many who have some understanding of pensions, I have been fully aware that I will only be getting my state pension somewhere between 66 and 70. Until the new dates are announced I fall into the ‘could be 67, could be 68’ bracket, with most of the EB team in the ‘could be 68, could be 69’ gang.
Wonder what we will all be doing at that age?
I am envisaging some sort of flexible retirement, hopefully splitting my time between the UK and my home country of South Africa. So I had better hurry up and increase those pensions contributions, as my adviser told me to do recently.
We are heading towards an era that when you retire will have more to do with your own retirement savings and little to do with when the state pension starts to be paid.
But do many employees truly understand that?