Treasury minister rules out tax cuts amid Tory warning over burden on Britons

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is resisting renewed calls for immediate tax cuts, amid Tory warnings the burden on “hard-pressed” taxpayers is “unsustainable”.

Treasury minister Andrew Griffith said it would not be “responsible” to rule out further tax rises by the Government before later replying “not for the moment” when asked about the prospect of cuts.

He cited the need for the Government to make choices as it seeks to reduce inflation as the reason for the stance.

Mr Griffith defended the Government’s approach after a report said Parliament will have presided over the biggest set of tax rises since at least the Second World War.

By the time of the next general election, taxes are likely to have risen to around 37% of national income, according to analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

The widely respected think tank said the spike was equivalent to around £3,500 more per household, even if it will not be shared equally.

Since comparable records began in the 1950s, no parliament has seen a bigger increase in taxes.

Tory MPs have long complained about the unwillingness of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Mr Hunt to contemplate tax cuts.

Former cabinet minister Dame Priti Patel, speaking ahead of the party’s conference in Manchester, told GB News: “The tax burden is now at a 70-year high. That is unsustainable. And the people that pay the taxes are hard-pressed Brits around the country.

“As Conservatives, we believe in lower taxes. As Conservatives, we believe being on the side of hard-working households and families. As Conservatives, we believe in hope and aspiration.

“That should mean lower taxes. The burden of tax has to start to come down.

“Reduce the size of the state and ensure that people keep more of their income. This is just a fundamental Conservative principle that we must stand by.”

Ms Patel said there is a need to “separate” tax and inflation, adding: “I do recall a rather successful Conservative prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was able to tackle inflation while growing the economy.”

Mr Griffith, asked if he could commit to no further tax rises from the Government, told Times Radio: “Look, I don’t think any responsible Treasury minister is going to give you that commitment.

“I can point to what the proud track record of Conservative governments are, the fact that philosophically we believe that you need a strong economy, you need to build that on stable foundations, which is why bearing down on inflation is so important, that’s been the priority the Prime Minister has set.

“We’re on track to deliver that because of the tough choices we’ve made. Directionally Conservatives believe in people keeping more of their own money, but I regret I can’t give you a commitment at seven o’clock outside of a fiscal event as to the specifics of that.

“But it’s clearly something that’s a consequence of that really significant extra amount of money, no-one planned for, no-one foresaw, due to the global pandemic.”

Asked when tax cuts will be announced, Mr Griffith told LBC: “Not for the moment, I’m afraid, because you’ve got to make choices.

“I come from a business background, you can’t do everything at one point in time.”

Ben Zaranko, a senior research economist at the IFS, said the pandemic could not be blamed for rising tax levels and predicted that a high-tax approach is here to stay regardless of who wins the next general election.

“It is inconceivable that this parliament will turn out to be anything other than a tax-raising one – and it looks nailed on to be the biggest tax-raising parliament since at least the Second World War,” he said.

“This is not, for the most part, a direct consequence of the pandemic. Rather, it reflects decisions to increase Government spending, in part driven by demographic change, pressures on the health service, and some unwinding of austerity.

“It is likely that this parliament will mark a decisive and permanent shift to a higher-tax economy.”

Shadow Treasury minister Darren Jones said: “Brits are working hard but getting clobbered with 25 Tory tax rises and a continuing Conservative premium on their household budgets.”