Wait And See: Osborne Cautious On Tax Cuts

BCC Urges Osborne 'Make Britain Great'

The Chancellor has all but ruled out the possibility of tax cuts before the next general election, saying it depends on "how things develop".

George Osborne was cautious about the prospect of tax bills coming down, ahead of this weekend's Conservative Party conference.

He indicated his primary focus was, for now, on promoting private sector growth and that he would only want to introduce tax cuts that would be permanent - "not just for Christmas".

It has been thought that, having reduced the deficit by the end of the coalition Government's current term, Mr Osborne would want to offer some kind of pre-election sweeteners by 2015.

But, in an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he was non-committal about the likelihood of tax cuts amid continued economic turmoil around the world.

"We'll see how things develop in the rest of this parliament," he said.

"I'm a conservative who believes in lower taxes. They lead to a more enterprising economy.

"But I'm not somebody who believes you can fund lower taxes by borrowing more money because that is a deceit and the public are smart enough to see straight through it."

Insisting his first priority was on dealing with the deficit, Mr Osborne said he did not want to offer tax cuts that had to be reversed very quickly.

"I don't want to be a Chancellor who cuts taxes one year and has to put them up the next," he said.

"A country with an almost double-digit deficit cannot add to its deficit in the middle of a sovereign debt storm to cut tax, presumably on a temporary basis, because you would have to then put it back up again to deal with the deficit.

"Tax cuts should be for life, not just for Christmas."

He added scrapping the 50p top rate of tax, which would intensify Liberal Democrat calls for the introduction of a "mansion tax" was not an immediate priority.

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