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Sunak promises to deliver tax cuts in ‘long term’ amid Spring Budget speculation

Rishi Sunak has promised to deliver tax cuts in the “long-term” amid growing speculation about next month’s Spring Budget.

In an interview with The Times, the Prime Minister said that the “trajectory” of his government was to cut taxes but would not specify how or when.

The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has come under repeated pressure from his own MPs to reduce the tax burden, which is currently at its highest level since the 50s.

Last week, he cautioned that there would be limited scope for tax cuts in March compared with last autumn, when the main rate of national insurance was reduced from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.

Addressing speculation about the Spring Budget, Mr Sunak told The Times: “What the Chancellor and I have said is that of course our long-term plan is to cut people’s taxes.”

The Conservatives, he added, would only cut taxes when it is “responsible to do so”.

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 15: UK Chancellor Jeremy Hunt leaves Downing Street with the despatch box to present his spring budget to parliament on March 15, 2023 in London, England. Highlights of the 2023 budget are an increase in the tax-free allowance for pensions which the Chancellor hopes will stem the number of people taking retirement, a package of help for swimming pools affected by the increase in energy bills and changes to childcare support for parents on universal credit. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Jeremy Hunt leaves Downing Street with the despatch box to present his Spring Budget to Parliament on 15 March, 2023 (Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images)

Mr Sunak indicated a preference for lowering national insurance, which he described as a “very direct” way of rewarding hard work.

“I believe hard work should be rewarded,” he said. “Cutting national insurance is a very direct way to do that.

“The other benefit is we can do it UK-wide. The third thing is we can bring in the national insurance tax cut very quickly. It was announced in November and was in people’s pay packets in January.

“The fundamental point was it’s about rewarding hard work. It’s very well-targeted for that. As the Office for Budget Responsibility acknowledged it will also have a benefit in increasing labour force participation and getting more people into work.”

Mr Hunt has been given around £14bn of spare cash in forecasts by the Office for Budget Responsibility, i understands, meaning only modest tax cuts are possible on 6 March.

Elsewhere in the interview, the Prime Minister recommitted to honouring a controversial bet made with Piers Morgan about the Government’s Rwanda policy.

Earlier this week, Mr Sunak accepted a £1,000 wager in a TV interview with Morgan that deportation flights to Rwanda would take place before the next general election, which is expected in the autumn.

Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP leapt on the bet, claiming it demonstrated callousness and that the Prime Minister was out of touch with working people.

Mr Sunak said he was not “typically a betting man,” but added: “I always honour things that I say.”

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