As the chancellor prepares to give his first autumn budget, Leighton Reed, tax director at Broomfield & Alexander, looks at who the potential winners and losers are.

This year’s budget is set against some unusual circumstances, not least as it is the first to be delivered in the autumn, and follows on from a bruising general election, in which the government performed poorly. As a result, any changes may be more liberal than would normally be expected.

Additionally, there is the continued uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the impact it is having on confidence, business investment and personal spending. Lower growth in the UK is likely to mean less tax receipts for the government, which may mean further cuts in public spending - something the opposition parties strongly oppose. As a backdrop, it is a complex economic picture.

Tax policy, rates and allowances have a significant impact, not only on the government’s finances, but also on people’s behaviour. The higher the tax, the more likely it is for business people to try to avoid it, as evidenced by the recent revelations in the ‘Paradise Papers'.

Despite this, the government has done a very effective job in clamping down on tax avoidance through the introduction of several new procedures. Given the political pressure, I would expect this to continue, and would anticipate further announcements from the chancellor to close loop-holes.

Some of the less controversial measures that may be on the cards include changes to the student loan system and the scrapping of stamp duty for first time buyers., The Conservative party grandees widely acknowledge that they failed to enthuse younger voters in the general election, and so measures that help younger generations could be introduced as a pump-prime for future electoral support. The average house price in Wales for first time buyers, for example, is more than £130,000, while in London, it’s not far off half a million pounds – compounding the existing difficulties amid the shortage of new homes. If stamp duty is to be scrapped for first time buyers, it will be interesting to see where the lines will be drawn.

Drivers of diesel vehicles could find themselves on the wrong end of a hike in fuel duty, and possibly an increase in company car taxation, as the drive towards lower carbon emissions and the continued debate around petrol versus diesel rumbles on.

Many will remember the famous U-turn on an increase in national insurance for the self-employed last year. Faced with the continued increase in people working for themselves and a lower tax intake, the government may be forced to make that change.

In terms of retirement, the ability of people to save for their post-working years and to access pension pots has significantly changed in recent years. Higher rate taxpayers continue to benefit from higher rate tax relief on pension contributions, although the amount which can be saved is now limited.

There is a continued threat of the removal of higher rate tax relief which will, if introduced, discourage pension contributions. The government has to balance the need for people to save more for retirement, with the perception of favouritism to higher earners. There is the additional difficulty of balancing the generational divide between young people’s aspirations and providing security later in life. It’s an unenviable task and there are, inevitably, winners and losers.