At least one personal tax cut on way in Autumn Statement, signals Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's deputy

At least one personal tax cut on way in Autumn Statement, signals Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's deputy

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s deputy signalled on Tuesday that at least one personal tax cut will be in the Autumn Statement.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Laura Trott stressed that the Government was now focusing on “cutting taxes for individuals,” as well as businesses, after having met Rishi Sunak’s goal to halve inflation this year.

Speculation was growing that the tax cut for households could be a reduction in National Insurance rather than Income Tax or Inheritance Tax, but nothing has been confirmed.

The timing of any lowering of taxes was also not clear.

But Ms Trott told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Last week we met the Prime Minister’s pledge to halve inflation.

“The economy is in a very different place to where we were a year ago and we can now focus on going for growth, pushing up the growth rate of the economy and cutting taxes for individuals.”

The Cabinet minister also told hundreds of thousands of people not in jobs that it was their “duty to work” if they could as the Government steps up action to get more people off benefits.

Speaking on Sky News, she said: “Of course there should be support for people to help them into work or with issues that they are facing.

“But ultimately there is a duty on citizens that if they are able to go out to work that is what they should do.”

Mr Sunak has branded as a “national scandal” that around two million working-age people were not in employment.

About 12.7 per cent of working age Londoners are on out-of-work benefits, figures show.

Today's front page (Evening Standard)
Today's front page (Evening Standard)

Barking and Dagenham, and Hackney, are the boroughs with the highest proportion of claimants, with 16 per cent of the working-age population on out-of-work benefits in February 2023.

The City of London had the lowest overall proportion and at the same time saw the largest percentage point decrease in claimants in a year - from eight per cent in February 2022 to 6 per cent in the same month of 2023.

The PM has vowed to “clamp down” on welfare fraudsters, with a tougher sanctions regime including potentially losing free NHS prescriptions.

At the same time, more help will be offered to people to find work, including more mental health support.

Individuals will also be encouraged to work from home if they are unable to get into the office or another workplace.

In very similar language to the Government, shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall said: “We expect everybody who can work should work.”

But she accused the Government of failing to put in place a “proper plan” to support people into jobs

Mr Sunak confirmed on Monday that there would be tax cuts announced in the Autumn Statement, with the priority being on businesses to boost the economy, which is currently stalled with zero growth in the most recent quarter, and some warnings of a possible looming recession.

Inflation fell from 10.7 per cent in January to 4.6 percent in October, meeting the PM’s pledge to have it.

But the governor of the Bank of England has warned it is “much too early” to say that inflation has been beaten.

Andrew Bailey also stressed that it is too early to start talking about cutting interest rates.

Government borrowing was higher than expected in October, largely pushed up by uprated benefits and cost-of-living payments, according to official figures.

The Office for National Statistics said public sector net borrowing stood at £14.9 billion last month, £4.4 billion more than a year earlier and the second-highest October borrowing since monthly records began in 1993.

The ONS said financial year-to-date borrowing stood at £98.3 billion, £21.9 billion more than a year earlier, but less than the £115.2 billion forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility in March 2023.

Experts at Hargreaves Lansdown also stressed that inheritance tax receipts for the Treasury had risen to £4.6 billion between April and October, £500 million higher than the same period last year, and that PAYE income tax and NIC1 (National Insurance) receipts stood at £232.5 billion, £11.2 billion higher than the same period last year.