Chancellor warned he has ‘no headroom’ for major tax cuts after autumn statement tease

Politics

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says “everything is on the table” when it comes to tax cuts in this week’s autumn statement.

Speaking to Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips, Mr Hunt said his speech on Wednesday would focus on growth, and pledged to “remove the barriers that stop businesses growing”.

Politics live: Chancellor facing questions ahead of autumn statement

But he did not rule out other rumours that have been swirling around Westminster this weekend, including a reduction in inheritance tax and changes to personal taxation.

“I am not going to talk about any individual taxes as that will lead to even more feverish speculation as to what I might do,” said the chancellor.

“What I will give you is a general view about tax. It is too high [and] the Conservative government wants to bring it down because we think that lower tax is essential to growth.”

He added: “I want to bring down our tax burden. I think it is important for a productive, dynamic, fizzing economy that you motivate people to do the work [and] take the risks that we need.”

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Under the Tories, tax levels are at their highest since records began, and backbench MPs have been demanding cuts from the government ahead of the next election.

But Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have been resisting the calls for the past 12 months, saying their priority was to lower inflation – which also stood at a record high of 11% last autumn.

Earlier this week, the Office for National Statistics confirmed that figure had now dropped to 4.6%, seeing the Conservative pledge to halve inflation by the end of the year met.

But it still sits at more than double the Bank of England’s target of 2%.

The chancellor reiterated his pledge to not introduce any tax cuts that “fuel inflation”, saying: “We have done all this hard work we are not going to throw that away.”

But he did not write off the prospect of lowering taxes, saying the Conservatives “need to show there is a path to a lower tax economy”, and adding: “We believe lower taxes are essential for a high growth economy, so we do want to bring down the tax burden, but we will only do so responsibly.”

Mr Hunt indicated the focus during Wednesday’s speech would be on business, calling it “an Autumn Statement for growth… to turn a corner” on the economy.

“If we are going to embrace those opportunities we need to remove the barriers that stop businesses growing and that’s why this autumn statement will be focused on growth,” he said.

But pushed on whether there would be changes to either National Insurance or income tax, he hinted at a longer wait, saying: “If you want to bring down personal taxes the only way to do that sustainably is to spend public money more efficiently… Rome wasn’t built in a day, these things take time.”

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