Sir Keir Starmer pledges to scrap tax benefits of his own pension after hypocrisy accusations

·3-min read
KEir Starmmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA
KEir Starmmer - Stefan Rousseau/PA

Sir Keir Starmer has pledged to scrap the tax benefits of his own pension after he was accused of hypocrisy over his support for the lifetime allowance.

The Labour leader said that if his party wins the next election he will change the law to remove a tax break he was personally granted by the Government when he became Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in 2008.

Sir Keir has faced accusations of hypocrisy from Conservative MPs after The Telegraph revealed his Crown Prosecution Service pension is exempt from the lifetime savings allowance he plans to reintroduce.

The pension scheme, of which he was the only member, had tax benefits that were "broadly" in line with those offered to judges, according to the CPS’s annual reports.

Ministers even passed a statutory instrument in Parliament that mentioned Sir Keir by name when he retired in 2013 to ensure his pension increased annually with inflation.

Jeremy Hunt, the Chancellor, has abolished the allowance, which previously meant any pension savings over £1.07 million were subject to a tax of 25 per cent when drawn as income later in life.

'Huge giveaway to some of the very wealthiest'

Labour says it would reintroduce the cap and described Mr Hunt’s decision to scrap it as a "huge giveaway to some of the very wealthiest".

Speaking to an audience in Stoke on Thursday, he said he would change the law to remove the tax status on his pension pot and any advantage he received as a result.

"I am absolutely committed to changing what the government did last week, which was to give a tax cut to the wealthiest one per cent," he said.

"Let me go further than that. I don’t intend that to exclude me. And therefore, I haven’t taken advantage of this, there are no tax advantage, and nor do I want one.

"So when I reverse that change the government put in law last week, I will be included within that, whatever change is needed within legislation or anything else.

"I am very happy, want to be, and will be in the same position as everyone else in this country."

'One law for Sir Keir and a different law for everyone else'

His decision to scrap his own tax benefits comes after he was accused of hypocrisy by several Conservative MPs.

Greg Hands, the Conservative party chairman, said: "When it comes to pensions for the better off, it’s literally one law for Sir Keir and a different law for everyone else."

Anthony Browne, the MP for South Cambridgeshire, said the arrangement was "truly shocking".

The Labour leader said he intended to publish his tax return later on Thursday, after Rishi Sunak published his own on Wednesday.

"I will publish mine, I hope to be able to do that later on today, so that is very, very straightforward," he said.

"I am glad the Prime Minister has published his tax returns. I think that is the right thing to do. Others will obviously analyse those returns.

"But I do think there is a wider point about choices here and I would say this before or after he published his tax returns which is the choices they make on tax and the tax system are obvious. They always go after working people."