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Jeremy Hunt Eyes Further National Insurance Cuts Amid Election Promises, But Withholds Ironclad Guarantees



Jeremy Hunt promises additional reductions in national insurance this fall 'if finances allow'

The chancellor also asserts that tax rates will decrease if the government secures victory in the upcoming election, though he stops short of offering a definitive guarantee on the schedule.

Political correspondent @NifS

Friday, May 17, 2024, 11:

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Jeremy Hunt has committed to reducing national insurance this fall, provided the financial situation allows it.

Since assuming office at 11 Downing Street, the chancellor has reduced taxes two times, a move that the government claims has resulted in an average annual saving of £900 for individuals.

During his address at a London gathering on Friday, he declared, "we're not stopping there," and continued, "If it's financially feasible to further reduce the dual tax burden on employment this fall, that's exactly what I intend to do."

"We stand firm in our commitment to continually reduce the dual taxation on labor until it is completely eliminated. However, we will pursue this goal only under conditions that do not require increased borrowing or reductions in public service or pension funding."

Live Politics: Hunt Criticizes Labour During Taxation Address

Mr. Hunt has expressed his intention to eventually eliminate National Insurance, arguing that it is inequitable to double-tax employment income while other income types are only taxed once.

Labour has criticized the Conservatives, accusing them of not providing details on the funding for their proposed plan, which is projected to cost £46 billion. Labour argues that this could result in increased borrowing, higher taxes for retirees, or a significant transformation of the current state pension system.

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Conservatives and Labour outline tax policy positions, with the final decision resting in the hands of a fatigued electorate.

Starmer's strategy indicates that Labour is gearing up for the election campaign, while Sunak seems to be out of the loop.

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Following his speech, Mr. Hunt responded to journalists' inquiries by dismissing the comments made by Labour as "nonsense" and "fake news." He elaborated, "Our goal is not bound by any specific timeline because we have clearly stated that we will fulfill it when it is financially viable. This will be achieved through economic growth, not by raising debt or reducing expenditures."

"It is truly appalling to frighten retirees by distorting that policy."

He countered by asserting that Labour proposed £38 billion in spending commitments for the upcoming parliament that would necessitate tax increases to be financed.

"The chancellor stated that it is inevitable for taxes to increase if a Labour government comes into power, just as day turns into night."

"A Conservative administration will reduce taxes as we are committed to">king the rigorous efforts needed to maintain a competitive economy."

Nevertheless, he did not commit to a specific timeline for these reductions.

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Mr. Hunt conveyed to Sky News: "Do you expect me to foresee global events over the next five or ten years and thus assure you precisely when and by how much we can lower taxes? Naturally, that's impossible for me to do. Moreover, making such a promise would be reckless."

This is the reason, incidentally, why our pledge to eliminate the dual taxation on labor – namely, the employees' national insurance – does not have a set deadline. Its implementation hinges on variables outside our direct influence, including the broader economic growth, which will dictate when it becomes financially feasible.

"I am dedicated to reducing the tax burden under the upcoming Conservative administration."

Mr. Hunt declined to promise reductions in tax thresholds should the Conservatives remain in government, a strategy critics have labeled a "stealth tax." This occurs as increasing wages push more individuals into higher tax brackets, while the thresholds themselves are not adjusted.

Stay informed with the most recent updates from the UK and globally by tuning into Sky News.

The address came after a significant event held by the Labour Party on Thursday, during which Sir Keir Starmer presented his initial plans for governance should his party succeed in the upcoming election. His foremost priority, he noted, was to provide "economic stability."

Mr. Hunt stood by the government's economic management, even following the negative impacts of Liz Truss' ill-fated mini Budget, asserting that the notion of the UK lagging behind comparable nations was simply a "myth."

"Since 2010, the UK's economy has been hit by three significant external shocks: the aftermath of the financial crisis, a pandemic of a magnitude not seen in a century, and an energy crisis reminiscent of the 1970s triggered by the invasion of Ukraine," he stated.

"Time and again, Conservative administrations have fulfilled their electoral mandate by making the challenging choices required to stabilize and rejuvenate the economy."

The contest for Downing Street is underway, and it's expected to last for several months.

For the second consecutive day, a political happening has brought the sensation that the general election is just six weeks away, instead of six months.

Is it true that both the Labour Party and the Conservatives reserved locations for a summer campaign only to find out later that they were unable to cancel those bookings? Perhaps that will remain a mystery.

However, we are starting to get a better understanding of the shape of the upcoming competition for Downing Street.

Today, the Chancellor centered his attention on taxation. It was quite evident, as Jeremy Hunt was flanked by three placards declaring "Labour's Tax Rises," placed strategically where one might typically see mottos reflecting a party’s own goals.

Adding to the oddity, we then witnessed Mr. Hunt conceding that he was, in fact, the man responsible for raising taxes by £20 billion a couple of years ago – even though the messaging near him implied it was the opposition inflating your expenses.

Expanding on this point of criticism, the chancellor clarified that his comments were in reference to prospective adjustments and pointed to financial analyses of Labour's plans, which reveal a significant deficit that would necessitate increases in taxes to be addressed.

Labour labelled the move as "desperate" and quickly shared a document that demonstrated the same financial estimates were applicable to the Conservative goal of eliminating national insurance.

What could be the result? Exactly what you're thinking: increased taxes. But not just any tax hikes. These would be tax hikes targeting retirees. Jeremy Hunt dismissed this idea, labeling it as "fake news… a lie."

Consulting with economists reveals a consensus that regardless of which party holds power, there will be a need to raise taxes in the upcoming years to cover the escalating costs of healthcare, defense, and pensions.

The other option would involve drastic and probably unrealistic reductions in different public services.

Both sides present points that contain elements of truth, yet these are embedded within a larger context of exaggeration and distortion.

I hope this isn't becoming monotonous – we have several months ahead of us.

Highlighting the decrease in inflation, which was a major commitment by Rishi Sunak, and the fact that the UK is no longer in a technical recession, the Chancellor remarked, "It is misleading for the Labour Party to emphasize that living standards have declined during this parliamentary term without acknowledging the impacts of the pandemic or the energy crisis. They are treating the public like fools."

He argued that Labour's economic strategies would have a deep and harmful impact on every household nationwide.

A spokesperson from the Labour Party described the speech as "a further attempt by the Conservatives to distract from their unfinanced £46 billion tax scheme," and added, "Labour's policies are all thoroughly accounted for and financed. Unlike the Conservatives, who have destabilized the economy, Labour will always handle public funds responsibly."

The Liberal Democrats criticized the Chancellor, with their Treasury spokesperson, Sarah Olney, stating: "Jeremy Hunt should apologize to the countless diligent British citizens who are now burdened with higher taxes due to his deceptive financial plans."

The Conservative Party is attempting to deceive the British populace by brazenly trying to dismiss the failed budget by Liz Truss and their unjust tax increases.

Citizens nationwide and particularly in his competitive Surrey district will easily perceive the truth. Jeremy Hunt is unable to justify his history of skyrocketing mortgage rates, escalating food costs, and severe tax increases.

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