Potential tax rises on the poorest ‘of profound concern’, says Sturgeon

Hints made by the Chancellor of tax rises potentially hitting the poorest should “make everybody profoundly concerned”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Jeremy Hunt is expected to lay out his autumn budget on Thursday, with spending cuts and tax rises likely in a bid to stabilise an economy spooked by Liz Truss’ agenda.

Over the weekend, the Chancellor warned that everyone will have to pay “a bit more tax”.

But speaking during a visit to a school in Glasgow on Monday, the First Minister said: “I think the hints that have been given in public in the media, by the Chancellor, over the weekend should make everybody profoundly concerned.

Jeremy Hunt
The Chancellor will make a statement on Thursday (James Manning/PA)

“He’s talking about everybody having to pay more taxes, at a time when those at the lowest end of the income spectrum are already really struggling, if those tax increases fall there that is of profound concern.”

The First Minister also said the chance of looming public sector cuts would cause “significant problems” for services that are “still recovering not just from Covid but from the years of austerity that followed the last financial crash”.

“We need to see proper investment in our public services,” she said.

“And at the top of that list needs to be our National Health Service.

“The NHS is under more pressure right now than it has been probably at any time in its history and that pressure is only going to grow unless we see that significant injection of investment.

“So I really hope the Chancellor and the Prime Minister do the right thing later this week.”

The Scottish Government has the power to set income tax rates and thresholds, with the draft budget to be announced on December 15.

The First Minister met with both the Chancellor and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak last week ahead of the British Irish Council in Blackpool but said the leaders did not provide much in the way of detail around what will be in the statement.

“They didn’t give an indication of the detail of the financial statement,” she said.