UK’s Hunt says won’t implement tax cuts that fuel inflation By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: British Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves Downing Street in London, Britain, September 13, 2023. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) -British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Sunday that he would not implement tax cuts that would push up inflation, days before he announces a major budget update that is widely expected to contain tax cuts.

The Sunday Times reported that Hunt was considering cutting income tax or national insurance in his Autumn Statement budget update on Wednesday.

Hunt is due to present his Autumn Statement on Nov. 22, hoping to revive the fortunes of both a stagnant British economy and the governing Conservative Party ahead of an election expected next year.

“The one thing we won’t do is any kind of tax cut that fuels inflation,” Hunt told Sky News.

When asked if he would cut inheritance tax – a move the Sunday Times said could be delayed owing to bad press – Hunt said “everything is on the table” ahead of his statement.

Rachel Reeves, the opposition Labour Party’s finance spokeswoman, said cutting inheritance tax would be the wrong priority in a cost-of-living crisis.

“Lower taxes on working people – if the government can explain where the money is coming from – is something I would support,” Reeves told Sky News.

Hunt’s options are limited after heavy state spending on the COVID-19 pandemic and last year’s surge in energy prices. Public debt now stands close to 100% of economic output, more than three times its size 20 years ago.

Still, official forecasts due next Wednesday are expected to show Hunt has more room for giveaways before running into trouble with fiscal rules than in his annual budget published in March.

Hunt said the only way to bring personal taxes down was to spend public money more efficiently.

“I want to bring down our tax burden, I think it’s important for a productive, dynamic, fizzing economy that you motivate people to do the work, take the risks that we need,” he said.

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