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  • Browser Title Override: There’s still time to invest up to £20,000 into an ISA

ISA CampaignIf you haven't already, there’s still time to invest up to £20,000 into an ISA and up to £60,000* into a Pension this tax year (2023/2024), if you act now.

If you’re thinking of making a contribution, please contact your independent financial adviser directly, or request a callback, as soon as possible before 29th February 2024. We’re here to help.'

Frequently asked questions

How much can I invest in an ISA this tax year (2023/2024)?

For the 2023/24 tax year, the maximum ISA allowance is £20,000. You can choose to invest your money in one type of ISA account, or you can split the allowance across some or all of the other types available. The tax year runs from 6 April to 5 April and your allowance re-sets at the start of each year, so if not used is lost. You can only pay £4,000 into your Lifetime ISA (LISA)[1] in a tax year up to the age of 50 and to this the government will add a 25% bonus (you can use a LISA to buy your first home or save for later life, but you must be 18 or over but under 40 to open one), and this leaves £16,000 to contribute to other ISA accounts. Parents and guardians can set up an ISA for their children under the age of 18, then parents and others can invest up to £9,000 (2023/2024) in a Junior ISA for the child and this is in addition to the £20,000 allowance.

What are the benefits of investing in an ISA?

There are a number of benefits to investing in an ISA:

  • It is a tax efficient way of saving, free of capital gains tax and income tax.
  • You have the flexibility of changing your investments as your needs change; so, you can use your ISA to grow your savings, or take an income when you need it.
  • There is no fixed term, although you should be prepared to hold on to your investment for at least five years, ideally longer. (There may be some restrictions on particular ISAs such as the Lifetime ISA and Innovative Finance ISA.)

How much can I invest into a Pension this tax year (2023/2024)?

There’s still time to invest up to your annual allowance of £60,000* into a pension this tax year (2023/2024). To make the most of your annual pension allowance you can either contribute personally or from your business. Employer contributions also count towards your limit and if you receive bonuses before the end of the tax year, it may be possible to sacrifice these for an equivalent employer pension contribution. This can be very tax-efficient if you don’t need to take the extra money now, so speak to your employer if this might apply to you.

What are the benefits of investing in a pension?

There are a number of benefits to investing in a pension:

  • It is a tax efficient way of saving for your retirement; with income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax^ benefits once the investment are held in the pension wrapper.
  • You can benefit from tax relief on contributions.
  • You can access a wide range of investment options within the pension contracts we recommend.
  • You have the flexibility to invest in a portfolio aligned with your appetite for risk.
  • Most pension contracts provide a wide range of options when it comes to taking benefits.

*Pension contributions are dependent on your personal circumstances, please speak to your financial adviser as you may also be able to make use of unused allowances from up to the previous three tax years.

[1] Currently you can only withdraw money from your ISA if you’re either; buying your first home; aged 60 or over; or are terminally ill with less than 12 months to live. If you take money out at another time, you’ll pay a withdrawal charge of 25%. This recovers more than the government bonus you received.

  • Browser Title Override: What you need to know - Spring Budget 2024

spring budget

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, is scheduled to deliver the Spring Budget in the House of Commons on 6th March.

But with a possible general election this year, what changes can we expect him to announce?

We’ll be covering the Budget and analysing what it means for you and your money.

We encourage you to bookmark this page to access an immediate top line summary of the key announcements made on the day.

Our team of experts will also be delivering follow-up comprehensive summary and provide valuable insights and analysis on key issues announced. 

  • Browser Title Override: Empowering our advisers to give back through financial education

financial education

With millions of children in the UK lacking sufficient financial education to carry them through into adulthood, Ascot Lloyd is encouraging its financial advisers to step up and give back.

The biggest cost of living squeeze in 40 years, now having endured for over two years, has put into sharp focus the critical importance of astute money management. It has also exposed a lack of financial literacy in the UK, driven in part by insufficient financial education in schools.

Less than half of children (47%) have been taught about money at home or in school, according to research from the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), which estimates based on the figures that 5.4 million under-18s lack the financial skills they’ll need in adulthood. Those who have, MaPS found, are more likely to save, feel confident about money and use a bank account.

The desire among children to learn more is evident. A study by the London Institute of Banking & Finance last year found that 82% of young people want to be taught more about finance in school but very few have regular access. Only 8% cited school as their main source of financial education and 70% said the cost of living crisis has made them feel more worried about money.

Volunteering at schools

Through its CSR strategy, Ascot Lloyd is determined to help change that. Good financial education gives young people the skills they need to make their money go further, plan for a successful future and avoid getting into problem debt. As such, Ascot Lloyd is committed to utilising its resources to deliver free financial education sessions to secondary school pupils.

One of the ways the company does this is by encouraging its financial advisers to volunteer at schools local to them to offer their expertise. All Ascot Lloyd employees are offered one extra day of paid leave each year for charitable giving and the company is working with two financial education providers, CII and STEMPOINT, to help match advisers with opportunities in schools.

The CII’s pro bono initiative My Personal Finance Skills delivers free financial education workshops to students through a network of ‘Education Champions’ – professional members who are committed to giving something back to their local community. Since September 2019, over 600 workshops have taken place across the UK reaching over 18,000 students aged 14-18. Themes include understanding personal finances, staying safe from financial scams, navigating deductions on payslips and how attitudes to risk impact financial decision making.

STEMPOINT, meanwhile, is an educational charity who run the STEM ambassador scheme, which has 37,000 volunteers nationally who visit schools, colleges and youth group organisations to help children learn life skills. Insights and expertise from experts such as financial advisers can help springboard young people into the next chapter of their lives.

Caroline CastleCaroline Castle“It’s about trying to create more of a rounded education for youngsters,” says Caroline Castle, Corporate Financial Adviser at Ascot Lloyd and volunteer through CII’s programme. “There’s a section about financial wellbeing and how students can understand more about money. We describe what a pension is, what national insurance does and what tax is used for. They also focus on borrowing because it’s a risk area. We discuss the difference between credit cards and debit cards, and that you can have bad borrowing but also good borrowing, such as a mortgage.

“From 18 onwards they will be able to access credit and buy-now-pay-later payment options like Klarna, so we talked about the knock-on effects of interest rates. It’s crucial they understand the implications of this early. The session was really good. It was interactive; a combination of me presenting bite-sized topics and an activity to demonstrate learning and to produce questions.

“I thoroughly enjoy doing it. If you can start to lay some ground rules down and get them to think more realistically about money, budgeting and the cost of things, it can make a big difference to young people’s lives. When Ascot Lloyd provides the initiative and keeps reminding us we have this paid-for day for charitable giving it's a really great impetus to offer our expertise and knowledge to give back to the local community. I’ll definitely continue doing it because it’s important and I get a lot of satisfaction from feeling I have made a difference to the youngsters.”

Inspiring the next generation

Also among the financial advisers who have offered their expertise to the financial education programmes is Lindsay Carter, who has been supporting clients at Ascot Lloyd for almost ten years. To Lindsay, she is passionate not just about empowering young people with the financial skills to thrive in life but also promoting a career in financial advice to the younger generation.

Lindsay CarterLindsay Carter“In the financial services industry, especially financial advisors, there is quite a big group of us in our 50s and 60s so in the next ten years there are going to be a lot of financial advisers retiring,” she says. “We need new people to come in. I've got a 17-year-old daughter and her friends ask what's a financial advisor? They don't know. They need to be aware this career is available to them. Going into schools helps grow that awareness while also educating them about money.

“Financial education is so important and I think we need to see much more of it. I wish when I was in school that financial education was properly on the curriculum but it wasn't, and that’s still largely the case today. Poor financial education in children carries through to poor financial education in adults. I often speak with adults who haven't done the most basic of things to manage their finances. So it’s really great that Ascot Lloyd as an employer is encouraging us to volunteer in our local community to ensure youngsters are getting a better financial education.”

  • Browser Title Override: How will the Scottish Budget 2024-25 affect you

Scottish budget

On 19 December, Scotland’s deputy first minister and finance secretary Shona Robison set out the devolved government's spending plans for the next year. How will the changes impact you?

Due to the timing of the Scottish Budget, just before Christmas, you would be forgiven for thinking it somewhat fell under the radar, certainly in comparison to the level of coverage the Autumn Statement attracted a few weeks earlier. But especially for middle and higher earners in Scotland, the impacts of the budget on how much you take home next year are quite significant.

Since 2017, the Scottish Government has had the power to set its own tax policy on earnings from employment and its approach has increasingly diverged from the rest of the UK, including doubling the number of income tax bands to six. The Scottish Government does not have the power to change allowances, National Insurance or tax on non-savings, non-dividend income.

Despite increasing income tax just a year ago for those earning over £43,663, Robison said further income tax rises on middle and higher earners are now required in order to plug a £1.5 billion hole in Scotland’s books, as well as to fund a freeze in council tax and business rates.

Income tax rises

Continuing with the Scottish Government’s strategy in recent years, the income tax hikes will mainly affect those who earn above the median wage in Scotland (forecast to be £28,200 in 2024/25). While the “starter”, “basic” and “intermediate” rates of income tax are held at 19%, 20% and 21% respectively, the “top” rate of tax, levied against those earning more than  £125,140, will rise by 1% to 48%. This follows a 1% increase on the same tax band last year.

Meanwhile a new “advanced” tax band set at 45% will be created for those earning between £75,000 and £125,140. This means the “higher” tax band, which remains at 42% (having increased from 41% last year), is now only applied on income between £43,663 and £75,000.

While the thresholds at which people start paying the "basic" and "intermediate" rates of tax will increase slightly from April, along with the upper thresholds on the "starter" and "basic" rate bands, the entry thresholds for the “higher” and “top” tax bands are frozen at £43,663 and £125,140 respectively, a fiscal drag which will bring more people into the bands as wages rise.

Tax divergence

Recent cuts to National Insurance by the UK government will reduce the overall impact of the income tax rises, however as NI is not paid on pension income, retirees will not benefit from this. The Scottish Fiscal Commission said someone earning £100,000 in Scotland will pay £740 more income tax than last year and £3,346 more than taxpayers in England and Wales. Those earning more than £50,000 will pay at least £1,500 more income tax per year than they would in the rest of the UK while someone earning £150,000 will be paying almost £6,000 more per year.

“The general takeaway from the Scottish Budget, certainly for middle and higher earners, is you're going to be paying more but probably not getting much more,” says James​​​​ Bowater, Independent Financial Adviser at Ascot Lloyd. “Due largely to a lack of economic growth, there's a black hole that needs to be filled and limited borrowing powers the Scottish Government can use, so they’ve got two options: put up taxes or cut spending. They have opted for the former.

“The longer-term impact is a growing diversion in income tax policy from the rest of the UK. Initially, when the Scottish Government gained the powers to set its own tax policy six or seven years ago, it was a small divergence. But it is getting to the point now where it is quite substantially different. Not just in terms of the overall tax take but also the structures, different bands, what rates they come in at – pretty much everything is different now other than the things the Scottish Government still have no control over such as allowances and National Insurance.”

Marginal tax rates

As National Insurance is charged at 10% on income between £12,570 and £50,270, after which it drops to 2%, the total “marginal tax rate” (the total additional tax paid from an extra pound earned) for those in Scotland earning between £43,662 and £50,270 will be 52% from April.

For those earning six figures, the total marginal tax rate on income between £100,000 and £125,140 will be  67.5% because every £2 earned over £100,000 reduces their personal allowance by £1. This makes Scotland home to one of the highest marginal tax rates in the world.

“To some degree it's a natural consequence of devolution and having different parts of taxation policy controlled by different governments with competing priorities,” says Bowater. “It always surprises me that people don't object more, though that might predominantly be because of a general awareness gap about marginal tax rates and that could change in the near future. A mid-level teacher or nurse could be in that 52% marginal tax bracket. Would they consider themselves a higher earner such that over half of their income goes out in tax? Probably not.”

Conflicting messages

The paradox in narrative between the UK and Scottish Government is also quite striking. The Autumn Statement was a notably upbeat presentation which conveyed the UK as having "turned a corner" from the financial struggles of recent years and now in a position to start cutting taxes.

The Scottish Budget, taking place merely a few weeks later, was notably downbeat in tone, with Robinson referring to it as the toughest budget since the creation of the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The conflicting messages could leave Scottish people feeling confused about the future.

“It's becoming more established in Scotland that we expect to be presented with conflicting messages from two governments who do almost the opposite thing at the same time,” says Bowater. “2024 is a Westminster election year and it's clear the Conservatives want more of a positive message heading into that. The SNP want to retain seats in Westminster but it's not their sole focus because there is also a Scottish Parliament election, which is not due until 2026.

“Those party political differences have a real impact on people in Scotland. In a longer-term perspective, what might become apparent is two societies with different priorities and growth rates which influence people’s economic behaviour. Will someone who works in tech or finance, for instance, be willing to move from London to Edinburgh? Maybe the cost of living is lower in Edinburgh, but they'll be taxed more. Is a doctor going to want to work more if it means entering a high marginal tax rate? Will higher earners choose to move away from Scotland altogether?”

The value of advice

These wider impacts of Scotland’s divergent tax policy from the rest of the UK remain unknown for now, but what is certain is the value of financial advice – ensuring you are pulling the right levers so your financial future is as bright as possible. Pensioners, for instance, often have the flexibility to control the level of income they draw at different points, enabling them to avoid entering higher tax bands. Those still in work, meanwhile, can achieve similar outcomes by paying more into their pension or taking advantage of other salary sacrifice schemes available.

“I know plenty of people do that to a greater degree in Scotland because there are more tax bands and higher marginal tax rates,” Bowater adds. “Part of the value Ascot Lloyd offers is making sure people's financial plans are as tax efficient as possible. Obviously in a higher tax society that is going to be even more impactful and valuable than in a lower tax society.

“It's absolutely something people should consider. Do I understand my tax situation? Am I able to reduce the tax I pay in a perfectly legitimate manner? What are the options available to me? These are important questions that an independent financial adviser will ensure you answer correctly in the context of your individual circumstances and your long-term financial goals.”

If you’d like to speak with one of the trusted Independent Financial Advisers at Ascot Lloyd about how any of the announcements in the Scottish Budget will impact you, and how to build the right plan to meet your retirement goals, request a call back.

  • Browser Title Override: Our latest investment commentary for January 2024 from Steve Lloyd

market commentary page

As expected, the major western economic blocs (US, UK and EU) kept interest rates on hold at their first meetings in 2024.

Last year markets were pricing in an almost certain recession. We are now reminded that nearly 60 years ago, the great economist Paul Samuelson joked that the stock market had predicted “nine of the last five recessions”. Stock market sentiment is now aligning with the so-called ‘Goldilocks’ scenario, where a stronger than expected economy (not too hot or too cold, but just right) more than likely rules out a recession in the US at least. Under such conditions, cutting interest rates (despite being high relative to pre-COVID levels) would be like turning up your central heating during a hot-weather spell – uncomfortable and pointlessly expensive.

That belief in a more positive US economic outlook has been reinforced by remarkably strong GDP numbers for Q4 2023, along with jobs data that revised up the December figures for new jobs filled, and estimated January’s at more than 350,000 additions to payrolls. Despite being subject to revision later, the latest numbers poured more cold-water on the prospects for a March rate cut. 

Economic theory postulates that a rise in employment leads to a rise in inflation. This accelerates as employees negotiate higher wages to compensate. Indeed, the US jobs data does seem to show that average hourly earnings have increased, so at first sight these are hardly the circumstances that demand a rate cut. However, other research suggests that in real terms, most US workers have experienced no real rise in wages for over 3 years. This might explain why many Americans seem to irrationally perceive their economy as weak despite evidence to the contrary. A healthy economy is irrelevant if you’re not a beneficiary.

In the UK meanwhile, forthcoming gross domestic product (GDP) data - the sum of every good and service sold over a period - may show the UK was in recession in the second half of last year. However, January saw more positive signs of growth accelerating in the UK, with consumer confidence hitting a two-year high despite retail sales figures falling sharply. Combined with shop prices showing a marked slowdown in retailers’ inflation, the data suggests consumers were staying at home, refusing to pay inflated prices. However, this was insufficient to spur the Bank of England to consider cutting interest rates early. UK Gilts have responded accordingly, down up to 3% on the month.

Against this background western equity markets were relatively subdued, with the notable exception of Microsoft, Apple, Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Meta (Facebook), Nvidia and Tesla, collectively known as the “Magnificent Seven”. Of those companies, Tesla’s share price fell 25% in sterling terms in January, but Magnificent Six doesn’t have the same ring to it. Nvidia meanwhile was up another 24% over the month, following a 220% rise in 2023. Last week we saw corporate earnings numbers published and as a result Microsoft is now worth $3trillion.

These seven companies are jointly worth more than the combined annual GDP of New York, Tokyo, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Seoul, Chicago, San Francisco, Osaka, and Shanghai. Meta’s reported profits (and introduction of its first-ever quarterly dividend payment) saw its market value rise by almost $200 billion - roughly the current market cap of the whole of Astra Zeneca, the UK’s second largest company. That’s the largest one-day gain in value for any company ever. Meta is now worth twice as much as Tesla, and 35% more than it was a month ago. The Mag 6 are responsible for over 70% of the S&P’s gain (4.8%) so far this year. In the UK, a country with virtually no technology companies of note, we saw equities falling a little over 1.5% over the same period.

Geopolitics is becoming an important issue for fund managers. Despite fears of the Gaza conflict spreading, the importance of Houthi rebels’ attacks on shipping have yet to have a serious market impact. The oil price has risen a tad, but since many bulk carriers and the biggest supertankers don't go through the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the market impact remains negligible for the time being.

Finally, while Japan’s stock market continues its healthy rise (up ~4% in sterling terms over January) China’s economic woes continue. In January, one of China’s largest companies Evergrande Group was ordered by a judge in Hong Kong to liquidate, with over $300 billion in debt. The Property development part of the business had opened over a thousand projects across hundreds of cities, taking money for apartments that had not been finished and leaving hundreds of thousands of home buyers waiting on their properties and apartments, along with contractors and builders who have not been paid for years. How China responds, eg via a bailout, could have a dramatic effect on foreign investors’ already-battered confidence in China. With an ageing population, high youth unemployment and a weaker economy, it is perhaps ironic that some commentators to talk of a potential looming ‘lost decade’ for China, just as Japan re-emerges from three lost decades of its own.

Download a pdf version of this Investment Commentary

Is now a good time to buy a house?
  • Browser Title Override: Is now the time to take the plunge and buy a new house?

With mortgage rates on the way down and the UK housing market having proved its resilience in the face of significant headwinds, is now the time to take the plunge and buy a new house?

A 'For Sale' sign board outside of a terraced houseYou can’t predict the weather, they say – and it would seem the same could be said for the UK housing market, certainly if recent forecasts by the leading economists are anything to go by.

Those brave enough to send their memories back to the early months of 2020, when the world was plunging into a pandemic, will recall bold predictions by economists such as the Centre for Economics and Business Research that the housing market would fall by double digit figures.

The opposite ended up being true. Between January 2020 and December 2022 house prices in the UK grew by 20.4%, according to Halifax's closely watched House Price Index. The sharp rise was attributed to a so-called “race for space” during the pandemic, as well as a stamp duty holiday and higher household savings as people were spending less on holidays and leisure.

By the end of this period, however, the UK was in the midst of an unprecedented cost of living crisis, with energy bills and food prices skyrocketing and mortgage rates multiplying as the Bank of England embarked on a run of 14 consecutive interest rate rises in an effort to tame inflation.

The doomsday predictions were back in full force – economists once again predicted double-digit decline in house prices, with homeowners bound to struggle with spiralling living costs and mortgage repayments. Halifax, the UK’s largest mortgage lender, positioned its own crystal ball around the centre of price forecasts, predicting the market would fall by 8% in 2023.

A year later, however, Halifax’s House Price Index once again showed the consensus among economists had been proved wrong. UK house prices in fact increased by 1.7% throughout 2023, Halifax found, attributing the unexpected growth to a shortage of properties for sale as homeowners chose to absorb rising costs and hang tight rather than sell in an uncertain market.

With the UK housing market having displayed remarkable resilience through significant disruptions and headwinds over the past four years, it begs the question: is now a good time to buy? The Bank of England has held interest rates at 5.25% at its past three MPC meetings and mortgage lenders are already reducing rates ahead of anticipated monetary loosening this year.

“Asking if it's a good time to buy is quite a sweeping question that doesn't take into account things like local nuances or, most importantly, your personal circumstances,” says Marie​ Dalrymple, equity release and mortgage specialist at Ascot Lloyd. “At this moment I have a few clients who are waiting because their current deal is not up until spring time so they are waiting to see if rates come down further. Slowly but surely rates have been falling in recent months.

“However, while the general direction of mortgage rates does appear to be downwards for now, there's no guarantee that things don't change again. We've seen the impact of conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza on inflation and there is always a risk that fresh volatility elsewhere in the world, such as Yemen, could cause the Bank of England to keep interest rates higher for longer than the markets are currently expecting. Trying to perfectly time the market won’t get you far.”

Indeed the old adage about the stock market is just as true for housing: there’s no use in timing the market, it’s time in the market that counts. As recent years have shown, even the nation’s top economists can’t predict the fortunes of the UK housing market, so why bother trying? This is even more true in an election year when housing policy, including changes to stamp duty rates, planning rules or housebuilding targets, could sway the housing market in any direction.

Buying a house – as a first step on the property ladder, to move home or even as an investment – should be a decision you make based on your individual circumstances and financial goals, and with the long term in mind. A mortgage adviser will be able to assess your situation, including how much you might be able to borrow, to help you make the right decision for you.

“There will be people who consider the current mortgage rates to be quite normal by historic standards, and of course first-time buyers today never experienced the decade or so of rock bottom rates after the financial crisis so that’s not a comparison for them,” Dalrymple adds.

“There's little sense in not buying a house simply because you can’t get mortgage rates starting with a one or two anymore. We are where we are and nobody really can predict the future, so it's simply about assessing your situation to see if what you can buy meets your long-term goals.

“If you are one of those people who has wanted to move house for some time but you have been sitting on your hands for a year or more due to rising interest rates, then the outlook is certainly better now than it has been for a while. Especially if there are murmurs of movements in government policy to energise the housing market in this election year, then it's at least worth starting a conversation with a mortgage adviser to see what kind of opportunities are out there.”

Taking on a mortgage is a major decision and remortgaging to the right deal can be confusing. At Ascot Lloyd, we source products from the whole of the market, often with access to special rates and products that aren’t available direct to you on the open market. Crucially, an expert mortgage adviser will analyse your circumstances and search the market to get the best deal for you. Get in touch to start a conversation today.

  • Browser Title Override: Ascot Lloyd Investment Review 2023

Chief Investment Officer, Graham Bentley and Head of Collectives, David Morcher from Avellemy, one of our panelled investment management partners, come together to review market activity for 2023 and discuss what we might expect in 2024.



We hope you find this review of 2023 and outlook for 2024 useful.

As always, if you have any questions about information contained within this video, or if you need any support with your financial planning or investments, please contact your Ascot Lloyd Financial Adviser who will be happy to help. Alternatively, please request a call back using the form below and a member of our team will be in touch.

Request a call back 

  • Browser Title Override: Pension planning - Make it your New Year’s resolution

pension planning

Is it ever too late to start pension planning?

A financial adviser will always recommend that you start preparing for retirement as early as you can. But what if you’re in your 40s or 50s and have only just started thinking about pension planning? Have you missed out on the possibility of enjoying a secure and comfortable retirement? Well, not necessarily, as there are still plenty of things you can do to secure your future.

Firstly, it’s important to take a holistic and detailed look at every aspect of your current finances, such as your savings, investments and workplace pensions you may have in place. Having a true picture of your starting point puts you in a better position to devise a realistic strategy and set attainable goals.

David BrowneDavid BrowneYour retirement plan will depend partly on what you want from later life. It’s important to be clear about what you want to do with all the free time you will have when you are no longer exchanging time for money through work. Do you want to spend more time with your family? Travel the world? Indulge in passions or pursue new hobbies? If you have a good idea of exactly what type of lifestyle you envisage, you can create a financial strategy with that firmly in mind.

“Every person I meet has a different view on what life after work looks like for them , and what type of retirement they believe they can afford” says David Browne, Independent Financial Adviser at Ascot Lloyd. “It’s our job as a client’s financial adviser of choice, to take those objectives, and make them a reality through careful planning. It’s never too late, if your objectives are realistic there are always ways in which we can help.”

A helpful resource is available from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association whose Retirement Living Standards help show what a given lifestyle will cost and therefore how much you might need to save. You can find out more by clicking here.

If you’re currently in work, make sure you’re enrolled in your workplace pension scheme and the scheme is receiving both employer and employee contributions. You should aim to contribute as much as you can to your workplace pension, or your private scheme, which will be subject to certain limits and rules. As an employee your employer may also provide some degree of matched contributions, so if you pay in more then so will they, though there is likely to be an upper limit. This can make a substantial difference to the total you can pay in. Even if you’re starting to save relatively late in life, you can still benefit from a healthy degree of compound investment returns to bolster your retirement income.

Mark RodgersMark RodgersIf you’ve had other jobs in the past, you may have been auto-enrolled into workplace pensions and now have several ‘pots’ with different providers and different underlying investments. As you move from one role to the next, it can be easy to overlook them, so it’s well worth tracking them down and perhaps consolidating this money into a single scheme because there may be discounts on larger pots and you will be able to ensure that your investment strategy is aligned to your own risk profile and timeline to retirement.

“Taking into consideration all your pensions, savings and investment assets can allow for a clearer vison of what is available, where it’s invested and provide a sense of control over the future” says Mark Rodgers, Independent Financial Adviser at Ascot Lloyd. “Our job as advisers is to make sure any consolidation of plans is in your best interest and aligned to your individual needs.” adds Rodgers.

Cut unnecessary expenses

If you have a relatively short time to save for the future, you might need to make big decisions about what you do with your money. This could include identifying unnecessary expenses that you could cut in order to free up the cash for your retirement savings. Even small changes can add up. Think about subscriptions you may not be using perhaps after the ‘free trial’ period ended and inertia kept you there, or an expensive coffee habit.

Downsize your property

It may be that your home is larger than you need, perhaps because your children have grown up and left home. In that case, it could be well worth selling up and moving to a smaller, more suitable property. Any money left over from the sale could be put towards your retirement savings.

Moving to a smaller property may also reduce your monthly outgoings, from home insurance to general maintenance costs, allowing you to put a bit more aside for the future. “A large proportion of a client’s estate is usually ‘tied up’ in their property” adds Browne. “When it comes to retirement, downsizing can be a useful way of releasing capital to finance your preferred lifestyle. Or, if you want to stay in your home, we could help you look into whether equity release arrangements might work for you.  As financial advisers, we can then make the most of this additional available capital by ensuring these funds are in the right place and invested in the right way to provide the capital or income required throughout your retirement.”

Delay your retirement date

If you’re late to pension saving, then staying in full-time work for longer could be a good way to bolster your retirement income. The longer you can keep earning an income, the more you can increase your savings and delay the point at which you start having to draw from your retirement funds. Some people also have professional skills or hobbies that they can monetise and turn into an additional income after work or planning to take on contract work when they finish full time working.

Revise your investment strategy

Updating your investment strategy could be an option worth exploring in order to generate income for your retirement, although you should be careful about the level of risk you’re willing to face in order to catch up. With that in mind, it might be a good idea to work alongside your financial adviser. They’ll help you create an investment strategy and offer professional advice that’s in your best interests and work with both the risk you can tolerate and the time you have to work with. Your financial adviser can also help you optimise from where and when you access your retirement savings so you don’t pay more tax than you need to. “Taking professional advice can help with future and ongoing financial confidence and ensure that risk and tax management decisions are taken appropriately and efficiently,  enabling you to focus on enjoying a purposeful retirement, whatever that means for you” adds Rodgers.

Repay high-interest debts

Getting on top of your debts and prioritising high-interest repayments is a good idea at any time, but if you’re late starting to save for retirement, this could be a particularly effective way to free up cash that could help you fund your future.

Planning for retirement can be daunting for anybody, regardless of your age, but if you’ve missed out on valuable years of saving for later life, you might feel particularly overwhelmed.

But help is at hand. Get in touch with your financial adviser who will be happy to speak with you, so you can approach the future with confidence and peace of mind.

  • Browser Title Override: Tips on how to successfully complete your tax returns

self-assessment tax

Our dedicated tax team has provided their top 10 tips and reminders to help make your tax return less stressful.

Tip 1: Before proceeding, check whether you are required to submit a self-assessment tax return for the tax year 2022/23

It is not always necessary to complete a tax return to pay tax on untaxed income. You can check if you need to file a self-assessment return at If a tax return is not required, HMRC will still need to be told about any tax due and you will need to arrange for this to be collected or paid.

Tip 2: Don’t miss the deadline!

Allow enough time to gather everything you need to file your self-assessment tax return. The most important thing to remember when filing a self-assessment tax return is the deadline, which is:

31 October following the end of the tax year for a paper return.

31 January following the end of the tax year for an online return.

The tax return will need to be filed online as the deadline to file a paper return for 2022/23 was 31 October 2023.  To do so, you will need a government gateway account, if you do not already have one, and the process to register for this can take about 10 days. Failing to file or pay on time will generate penalties and late payment interest charges. Technically the date to let HMRC know you needed to file a return was 5 October 2023, but if all the tax is paid by the due date, then HMRC are less likely to impose a penalty for late notification.

Tip 3: Don’t forget that the changes to the dividend allowance may impact you

The dividend allowance, the band in which dividend income is taxed at 0%, was £2,000 for 2022/23. If, when added to your other taxable income, your dividend income takes you over the personal allowance and the dividend income is over £2,000, you will need to let HMRC know as tax will be due. The dividend rates are 8.75% for basic rate taxpayers, 33.75% for higher rate taxpayer and 39.35% for additional rate taxpayers.

Note that for the 2023/24 financial year, the tax free dividend allowance was halved from £2,000 in 2022/23 to £1,000. This means that any individual that receives over £1,000 in dividend income in the 2023/24 financial year will be liable to pay dividend tax on the excess at their marginal rate. The dividend allowance will be reducing further to £500 for 2024/25.

Tip 4: Remember that you have the option to amend your PAYE code in order to collect tax in the coming year

It can be possible to receive up to £10,000 of dividend and investment income without the need to file a tax return. If tax is due, contact the HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs) helpline and ask them to change your PAYE code to collect the tax over the next year from your wages or pension. If this is not possible, you will need to pay HMRC by 31 January 2024 to avoid late payment penalties.

Tip 5: Check the details on capital gains tax

Capital gains tax is applicable to profits you make from selling or disposing of an asset, for example a buy to let property or other assets of value.

For the 2022/23 tax year, any gains over the capital gains tax annual exemption of £12,300 for 2022/23 or proceeds over £49,200, will need to be reported on your tax return. If you have not been issued with a tax return, but have reportable gains or proceeds, you will need to let HMRC know.  You can do this by using the HMRC real time information service.

If you have sold a UK residential property, the gains and tax liability should be reported and paid to HMRC on the Report and Pay your Capital Gains Tax system within 60 days from completion of the sale.

As part of the government's budget in October 2022, the capital gains tax allowance was reduced by 50% for 2023/24 to £6,000 and will further reduce to £3,000 for 2024/25.  The capital gains reporting limit is now set at £50,000.

Tip 6: Make sure to use up all of your allowable expenses

When looking at your tax position, don’t forget to claim reliefs and allowances that are available. These include personal pension contributions paid by higher rate tax payers, charity donations, and the marriage allowance if one of a couple earns below the personal allowance and the other spouse/civil partner is a basic rate taxpayer.  Sometimes you may also be able to claim relief for professional memberships where these are not paid by an employer.

Tip 7: If you have been issued with a return, don’t ignore it!

If HMRC have issued you with a return, even if you have no untaxed income or tax due, you will need to file the return or HMRC will issue a penalty. You can contact HMRC to explain your circumstances and they may withdraw the return, which will remove any penalties charged. However, HMRC can insist the return is filed so they can review your tax position.

Tip 8: Beware of estimations in P800 calculations and Simple Assessments and get them corrected

HMRC may have removed you from self-assessment and instead issued you a Simple Assessment, or, if you receive pension or salary, issue you with a P800 calculation. These are the HMRC’s calculation of your tax position for the year. You will need to check them, particularly if you have income other than state pension, other pension or employment income, as HMRC may have estimated your other income figures.

You may get a Simple Assessment letter from HMRC if you:

  • owe Income Tax that cannot be automatically taken out of your income
  • owe HMRC £3,000 or more
  • have to pay tax on the State Pension

If the figures are wrong, you will need to contact HMRC and get these corrected. Any tax payable under the Simple Assessment regime for the  2022/23 tax year is due by 31 January 2024 or within 3 months of the issue date if you got your letter after 31 October.

Tip 9: Use this time to check if you are due back overpaid tax

The tax deadline is not just about ensuring you are paying what you owe. It is also an opportunity to see if you are owed money back. You don’t need to complete a tax return to get back overpaid tax. This can also be done by submitting a form R40 or contacting HMRC.

Tip 10: Most importantly, if you are unsure, then seek advice

Navigating tax rules isn’t easy. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to speak to your financial adviser who is here to help you.

  • Browser Title Override: Our latest investment commentary for 2023

market commentary page

2023 has seen something of an equity rebound after the difficult post-COVID period, and in the case of fixed-income securities (bonds), particularly since mid-October.

A third year of negative returns on bonds had been a reminder that markets can stay irrational longer than one can stay liquid; the message throughout the year had been about interest rates staying higher for longer, despite plummeting inflation. However, on October 19th US Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Powell spoke at a conference where he suggested that the year’s rise in bond yields (and lower prices as a result) was doing the Fed’s work for it by constraining borrowing and making financial conditions tighter, thereby cooling the economy. The implication here was that no more rate rises were necessary, and indeed that rate cuts may occur sooner than expected in 2024. Investors who were sitting in Cash on the side-lines would have noted bond funds subsequently gained between 5 and 10% in 3 weeks.

Equity markets have also seen something of a rebound, with the US up 12% in sterling terms, with Europe and Japan also seeing positive returns in excess of Cash. Despite a negative year of performance of medium and smaller companies, UK equities in general still managed over 3%. All of this has meant that the typical medium risk multi-asset portfolio has returned to form, eg Avellemy Risk 5 approaching a 6% return year to date after charges.

Reflections and Forecasts

Now December is the month when managers are not only expected to reflect on the past 12 months, but also to forecast market outcomes over the coming year, in time for publication before year-end. I have always felt the latter speculation rather daft: investment markets don’t ‘reset’ at year end, and compartmentalising continuous news flows into convenient calendar years is an artifice that distorts perception.

It can be embarrassing too. I was recently reminded of the Economist magazine’s “World in 1990” publication, which appeared in November 1989. With reform sweeping the communist bloc, the magazine rated the chances of change in what was then Czechoslovakia at 0 out of 10, and in Romania at -10 out of 10. Within a week, the ‘Velvet Revolution’ had peacefully swept the communists from power in Prague, while on Christmas Day Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife were propped against a wall and shot.

With that in mind, it is perhaps wiser to think about the investment journey through 2024 rather than speculate in the destination. There are ‘known unknowns’ that will require our close attention:

  • Inflation – US core inflation is already close to its 2% target. The UK is (more slowly) on its way there. Profit-led inflation may now be in reverse.
  • Interest rates – The Fed and the BoE may already have overdone the hiking, ‘accidentally’ hastening a downturn, and bringing forward cuts.
  • Recessions - We continue to believe a recession (defined as two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth) is more likely than not, in both the UK and US in 2024. This, and any associated rise in unemployment, will have implications for voters.
  • Elections – The Fed can swing the economy, and the economy can swing elections. Chair Powell will be careful not to exhibit political bias re interest rate policy, particularly as Donald Trump has made it clear he will challenge its independent status (and that of the Justice Department amongst others) if elected in November. In the UK, an election has to be called some time in 2024. Support for the Conservatives has been falling for 3 years, and Labour now has a 21% lead, which political analysts translate into a 268-seat majority in an election. The economic outlook may dictate the election date the Conservatives choose – May perhaps, or as late as possible (January 2025).

And finally...

I was saddened to hear that Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett’s right-hand man (and half of perhaps the most consistently successful investor partnership in history) passed away in November. Still working at age 99, his pithy “Mungerisms” have over the years become almost axiomatic investment truths. I have a long list of favourites, but here is the one that best represents my own investment philosophy:

“A lot of people with high IQs are terrible investors because they’ve got terrible temperaments. And that is why we say that having a certain kind of temperament is more important than brains. You need to keep raw irrational emotion under control. You need patience and discipline and an ability to take losses and adversity without going crazy. You need an ability to not be driven crazy by extreme success.”

RIP Charlie, and however you celebrate the winter holiday, have fun and we’ll be back next year with a new look – watch this space...

  • Browser Title Override: Autumn Statement for growth - how does it affect you?

autumn statement 2023 highlights

Reductions in NI and supply-side reforms might have dominated the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement speech, but amidst the 110 measures in his budget are other noteworthy policies.

With inflation having fallen to 4.6% in October, from a high of 11.1% the year before, and tax receipts up, the government found itself with more fiscal headroom than expected going into the Autumn Statement on 22 November. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt grasped the opportunity as he took to the despatch box in the House of Commons to unveil an “Autumn Statement for growth”.

In a notably more upbeat presentation than the cautious tones of the Spring Budget in March, when the Chancellor said "the best tax cut right now" is to ensure inflation falls, the government sought to convey the UK as having "turned a corner" from the financial struggles of the past few years. Policies to drive growth are now firmly placed front and centre of the government’s plans.

Cuts to National Insurance

The headline intervention in those plans came courtesy of cuts to National Insurance. Employed workers will see the NI they have to pay on income between £12,570 - £50,270 reduce by 2%, from 12% to 10%. Rather than wait until the new tax year to implement, the Chancellor said he will introduce emergency legislation to ensure this particular policy rolls out on 6 January 2024.

NI will also be cut for self-employed workers, who currently have to pay both Class 2 NIC (£3.45 per week if their profits are above £12,570) and Class 4 NIC (9% on profits between £12,570-£50,270 and 2% on profits over £50,270). The government has decided to abolish Class 2 NIC entirely while also reducing the 9% band of Class 4 NIC by 1%, down to 8%.

Despite this tax cut, it’s unlikely many people will feel better off. High inflation along with the decision to freeze income tax bands until 2028 is pushing more people into higher tax rates. By 2027-28, Britain’s tax burden will be at its highest since World War II, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. The OBR has also said real household disposable incomes are still contracting at the fastest pace since the 1950s, as inflation is eroding the real value of wages.

Labour's Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said in recent years the government has already put in place tax increases, either explicitly or through fiscal drag, “worth the equivalent of a 10p increase in National Insurance”. The cuts in NI will “not remotely compensate” for this, she said.

Gill PhilpottGill PhilpottGill Philpott, Tax and Trust Specialist at Ascot Lloyd, adds: “What the Chancellor also failed to mention are the planned changes to the way the self-employed will have to submit their tax returns and pay their taxes. From April 2026 self employed businesses with income over £50,000 will need to submit 5 returns a year, rather than the one submitted currently.  From April 2027 this will be extended to self employed businesses with income over £30,000. 

Accountants are likely  to charge  more to file multiple times per year rather than just once. So while the saving in NI is positive, this is balanced against the additional administrative costs being placed on the self-employed in the next few years.  With the eventual introduction of quarterly payments this will cause a cash flow disadvantage when compared to the current system of paying tax twice per year."

This new regime will also apply to landlords.

Pension changes

It’s also worth noting that as NI is not paid on pension income, retirees will not benefit from the tax cut. Those over the state pension age, however, will benefit from the decision to once again maintain the triple lock, meaning the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024 having already jumped by 10.1% in April 2023. Those on the full, new state pension will get an extra £902 per year from April, while those who reached state pension age before 2016 will get an extra £692.

There was little else to do with pensions in this Autumn Statement, certainly compared with the Spring Budget in which pension reforms were at the heart of the government's plans, including increasing the annual tax-free contribution allowance from £40,000 to £60,000. There was, however, an update to the other marquee policy in the Spring Budget: the abolition of the pension lifetime allowance. This had still yet to be legislated, leaving the change up in the air.

The government has now confirmed it will legislate in the Autumn Finance Bill 2023 to remove the lifetime allowance from 6 April 2024. Previous reductions in the allowance, down to the current cap of £1,073,100, disincentivised higher earners from saving into their pension to avoid a tax charge of up to 55% on their retirement pot. Its abolition will give those who stopped contributing because they already hit or thought they would hit the cap a chance to invest more.

The abolition of the pension lifetime allowance might well be short lived, however. If the Labour Party wins the next General Election, which will be held no later than 28 January 2025, it has said it will immediately reinstate the lifetime allowance. Despite current polling suggesting Labour is the most likely party to win the General Election, Mark​​​​ Sleeman, Chartered Financial Planner at Ascot Lloyd, says this shouldn’t stop people from taking advantage of the new rules.

mark sleemanMark Sleeman“You've got to play with the hand you're dealt,” he says.

“If legislation introduced in April 2024 allows you to contribute to your pension such that its value exceeds the lifetime allowance that existed before April 2024, but the rules are then changed again some months or years later to reintroduce the allowance, I would be very surprised if they didn't bring in protections.

People will have done it in good faith, so I think they'd be hard pressed to not put protections in place.”

One final pension announcement in the Autumn Statement which is less likely to be challenged by another political party is the decision to consult on giving employees the legal right to request that a new employer pays their pension contributions into their existing pension scheme. This will remove the complexities of having multiple pension pots and help simplify retirement saving.

Death taxes

Following the Autumn Statement, HMRC published further details on how the new pensions regime will work from April 2024. This included clarification on how your pensions are taxed when you die. Currently, if you die before you turn 75, your pension funds can be paid to your beneficiaries as tax free drawdown income providing the benefits are settled within 2 years of the scheme becoming aware of you death. A previous policy document suggested this will change when the pension lifetime allowance is abolished, but HMRC has now confirmed the tax treatment will remain intact. However, lump sums may still be subject to tax on the beneficiary where the new Lump Sum Death Benefit Allowance (LSBDA) is exceeded.

Despite rumours that the Autumn Statement would reduce inheritance tax, or even abolish it altogether, there were no announcements relating to this controversial tax on the value of assets owned when you die. It remains to be seen whether this will feature in the 2024 Spring Budget.

More ISA flexibility

While not mentioned in the Chancellor’s speech, the Autumn Statement included some adjustments to ISA rules. Currently it is only possible to invest in one ISA of each type per tax year. This restriction will be removed from April 2024, meaning investors can subscribe to multiple cash or stocks and shares ISAs without fear of losing tax free status on their savings.

From April 2024 it will also be possible to do partial transfers of all ISA subscriptions. Currently this is only possible on previous years subscriptions, but this rule is being changed to allow partial transfers to also apply on current years subscriptions, further simplifying the ISA process.

Annual contribution limits – £20,000 for adult ISAs, £9,000 for Junior ISAs, £4,000 for Lifetime ISAs – are unchanged. But a previous quirk allowing 16 and 17 year-olds to invest in an adult Cash ISA and a Junior ISA, thus giving them a £29,000 annual allowance, has been removed. From April the age at which an adult ISA can be opened will be fixed at 18 across all ISA types.

EIS and VCT extensions

The Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Venture Capital Trusts (VCTs) can be effectively utilised as tax planning tools while investing in small companies. This includes potential income tax relief up to 30and CGT savings for VCTs and EIS, with further CGT tax benefits and IHT exemptions for EIS. These schemes were originally scheduled to end in 2025, but in the Autumn Statement it was announced the sunset clauses will be extended to 2035, which is welcome news for investors.

“Despite not receiving much attention in the budget, the extension of these sunset clauses is important,” says Sleeman. “For clients they are a great complementary tool if they can bear the additional level of risk that comes with them. For higher-earners, who are tapered in the amount they can put into their pension and have maxed out their ISAs, EIS and VCTs are often the only tools they can use to get tax relief on investments. If these schemes would have ended in 2025 it would have seen higher-earners severely restricted from accessing such tax reliefs.”

Supply-side policies

Many of the policies in the Autumn Statement focused on supply-side reforms to stimulate business growth. These include a freeze to the small business multiplier for a fourth consecutive year (at 49.9p), an extension of the 75% business rates relief for hospitality, retail and leisure properties, and tougher regulation on larger companies that pay small businesses late. The Chancellor called the plans the “biggest ever boost for business investment in modern times”.

To encourage more people to work, meanwhile, the National Living Wage received an extra boost, having increased by 12% earlier this year to £10.42 an hour. It will increase by a further 9.8% to £11.44 from April 2024 and for the first time this amount will also be applied to workers aged 21 and 22. The National Minimum Wage for those aged 18-20 will increase by 14.8% to £8.60 an hour, while for 16 and 17-year olds and apprentices it will rise 21.2% to £6.40 an hour.

In what the Chancellor dubbed the “largest business tax cut in modern British history”, he also announced that ‘Full Expensing’ will be made permanent. This tax break allows companies to claim 100% capital allowances on qualifying investments in IT equipment, plant and machinery.

Peter MontaguePeter Montague"Whatever way you look at it, we are still amidst one of the heaviest tax burdens ever seen. The cost of living is still high, and most people are paying more tax than ever before. Meanwhile it's fair to say that since the start of 2022 it's been a very rough time for portfolios. 2023 has been another difficult year," says Peter Montague, Chartered Financial Planner at Ascot Lloyd.

"Clients want to see more positivity for the future and with inflation falling, interest rates looking to have peaked and the government now committing to stimulating economic growth and cutting taxes, there are reasons to be optimistic. But with challenges still ahead and elections in both the UK and US next year, that optimism should be tinged with caution. As always a financial adviser will help you create the best plan for your individual circumstances and objectives."

Read the full Autumn Statement 2023 here

If you’d like to speak with one of the trusted Independent Financial Advisers at Ascot Lloyd about how any of the announcements in the Autumn Statement will impact you, and how to build the right plan to meet your retirement goals, request a call back.

  • Browser Title Override: Autumn Statement 2023 from Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

autumn statement 2023 highlights

With inflation having fallen to 4.6% last month and tax revenues up, the government sought to utilise its fiscal headroom on 22 November to unveil an 'Autumn Statement for growth'.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt took to the despatch box in the House of Commons to announce a series of tax and spending plans for the months and years ahead – here are the key highlights:


  • The triple lock is once again being maintained for pensioners meaning the state pension will rise by 8.5% in April 2024. People on the full, new state pension will get an additional £902 in the year from April 2024, while those who reached state pension age before 2016 will see theirs grow by £692 per year.
  • The government will tackle the long-standing problem of “small pot” pensions and is launching a call for evidence on a lifetime provider model which would allow individuals to have contributions paid into their existing pension scheme when they change employer, providing greater agency and control over their pension and simplifying retirement saving for workers.
  • The Lifetime Allowance remains on track to be abolished in April 2024, via legislation in the Autumn Finance Bill 2023.


  • From April 2024, the government will allow multiple subscriptions to ISAs of the same type every year (previously you could only have one of each) but subject to the overall ISA allowances. The government will also allow partial transfers of ISA funds per year between providers.


  • With the National Living Wage already having increased by 12% earlier this year to £10.42 an hour, the Chancellor revealed it will receive another 9.8% jump to £11.44 from April 2024. For the first time, this amount will also be applied to workers aged 21 and 22. The National Minimum Wage for those aged 18-20 will increase by 14.8% to £8.60 an hour, while for 16-17-year-olds and apprentices, it will jump 21.2% to £6.40 an hour.


  • National Insurance will also be cut for self-employed workers, who currently have to pay Class 2 NIC (£3.45 per week if your profits are above £12,570) and Class 4 NIC (9% on profits between £12,570-£50,270 and 2% on profits over £50,270). The government is abolishing Class 2 NIC altogether while also reducing the 9% band of Class 4 NIC to 8%. 
  • Employed workers will see the National Insurance they have to pay on income between £12,570 - £50,270 reduced by 2%, from 12% to 10%. Rather than wait until the new tax year to implement, the Chancellor said he will introduce emergency legislation to roll out the tax cut from 6 January 2024.


  • In what the Chancellor called the “largest business tax cut in modern British history”, he announced that ‘Full Expensing’ will be made permanent. This tax break allows companies to claim 100% capital allowances on qualifying investments in IT equipment, plant and machinery. 
  • Much of the Autumn Statement focused on supply-side reforms to stimulate business growth. Other announcements in this area included a freeze to the small business multiplier, an extension of the 75% business rates relief for hospitality, retail and leisure firms, and tougher regulation on those that pay SMEs late. The Chancellor called the plans the “biggest ever boost for business investment in modern times”. 

Read the full Autumn Statement 2023 here