Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt, in his hotly anticipated inaugural Autumn Statement, unveiled a sweeping £55 billion ($66 billion) fiscal plan.
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U.K. Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt on Friday said the government will look to cut taxes “as soon as we can afford to,” amid pressure from some lawmakers in his own party to reduce the country’s tax burden.
Hunt will present his first full budget on March 15 as the country continues to grapple with high food and energy costs, widespread industrial action, the fallout from Brexit and the worst growth outlook among the G-20 major economies.
In his Autumn Statement in November, Hunt delivered a slew of tax rises and spending cuts as he set out to plug a substantial hole in the country’s public finances.
The sweeping £55 billion ($66 billion) fiscal plan sought to restore the country’s credibility under Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s government, after the chaos unleashed by former leader Liz Truss’ disastrous “mini-budget” in late September.
A marked improvement in the public finances and a sharp reduction in wholesale gas prices since Hunt took office propelled the government to a surprise £5.4 billion budget surplus in January.
Hunt earlier this week dismissed suggestions that he had been handed a “windfall” due to the falling cost of the Energy Price Guarantee to support household energy bills, and indicated that he will resist calls from backbenchers within the Conservative Party to cut taxes this time around. The U.K. tax burden currently hits at a 70-year high.
Speaking at a green industry conference in London on Tuesday, Hunt argued that the falling costs of the Energy Price Guarantee was being offset by a fall in the windfall taxes on the excess profits of energy prices, meaning a much smaller net expanse in the government’s coffers.
“The most important thing is this was a one-off one-year cost only. To make permanent changes in tax and spending that are recurring, year in, year out, you need a more fundamental change in national policies,” he said.