UK finance minister tables PM Sunak's tax cuts in Autumn Budget

UK finance minister tables PM Sunak's tax cuts in Autumn Budget

London, Nov 22 (PTI) Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt tabled the Autumn Statement budget in the House of Commons on Wednesday with a series of tax cuts for employees and businesses as had been indicated by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak earlier in the week.

Labelling his budget as an “Autumn Statement for Growth”, Hunt said his measures would reward hard work with lower taxes because the Sunak-led government had hit its target to halve inflation by the end of this year.

He also announced increases in the state pension by 8.5 per cent from April 2024 and Universal Credit social benefits by 6.7 per cent.

'If we want people to get up early in the morning, if we want people to work nights, if we want an economy where people go the extra mile and work hard then we need to recognise that their hard work benefits all of us,' said Hunt.

'Our choice is not big government, high spending and high tax because we know that leads to less growth, not more. Instead, we reduce debt, cut taxes and reward work. We deliver world-class education. We build domestic sustainable energy and we back British business,” he said.

In a boost to employee wages, the finance minister told Parliament that the main 12 per cent National Insurance (NI) tax rate would fall to 10 per cent from January 6, 2024, saving those on an average annual salary of 35,000 pounds over 450 pounds a year.

He also abolished NI payments for the self-employed, known as Class 2 National Insurance, saving that category of workers a significant annual sum.

Hunt also announced tough new measures for job seekers, saying those who fail to find work after 18 months of 'intensive support' from taxpayer-funded benefits will be given mandatory work placements.

He pointed out that the over 100,000 people who signed off work each year were a 'waste of potential' that was 'wrong economically and wrong morally'.

Some of the other key announcements included freezing all alcohol duty until August 2024, extending a 75 per cent business rates discount for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses for another year and consulting on giving savers a legal right to have one single pension pot for life that their employers pay into.

Hunt, with Sunak sitting next to him as he delivered the much-anticipated Autumn Statement, insisted the government's plan for the British economy was 'working' and that the economy was getting back on track after a turbulent period.

The pair will now be hopeful that delivering the promised tax cuts will have the desired effect on the British electorate ahead of a general election expected next year. Amid mounting pressure from their party backbenches to reduce the tax burden on both the public and business, the governing Conservatives have also been lagging behind Opposition Labour in the opinion polls and are keen to win over voters in time. Labour’s shadow chancellor, Rachel Reeves, responded to the budget in the Commons to declare that it had failed to turn things around for the Tories.

She said: “The questions that people will be asking at the next election and after today’s Autumn Statement, are simple... does anything in Britain work better today than when the Conservatives came into office 13 years ago? We all know that working people are worse off under the Conservatives with growth down, mortgages up, prices up, taxes up, debt up and their time is up.

“It is time for a change, a changed Labour Party, to lead Britain and to make working people better off.” PTI AK RUP RUP

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