Chancellor Rishi Sunak does not rule out further tax rises, including a hike in council tax to pay for social care.
Asked about a warning from the Local Government Association that council tax may have to rise to plug a black hole in social care, Sunak said it would be wrong to “pre-empt” the local government finance settlement later in the year.
He told Sky News this morning: “What people should know is we want to put more money into social care, that’s why we took the decision we did.”
Sunak said that “we’re throwing literally the kitchen sink at” helping people get new jobs.
Also, he declined to rule out hiking income tax before the next election.
Instead, he told BBC Breakfast: “Recently we did make a significant announcement on tax and it was a difficult decision to make, especially for a Conservative Chancellor and a Conservative Prime Minister, but we took that decision because we wanted to make sure the NHS got the significant funds it requires to help recover strongly from coronavirus.”
Sunak also defended the cut to the £20-a-week Universal Credit uplift amid rising bills and strains on people’s finances.
He told BBC Breakfast: “There are lots of things in place to help people get through the winter.”
Asked about the fuel and haulier shortages, Sunak said “we don’t want to just default, knee jerk, pull the immigration lever, but, that said, we want to be pragmatic”.
He told Times Radio: “I don’t think anyone plans to have supply chain challenges the likes of which we’re seeing, I think no-one wants to see that, I don’t think that would be fair, but more broadly do all of us want to see a higher skill, higher wage economy? Of course we do, that’s a good thing for the UK and, as the Prime Minister has said, in the long run that’s exactly the type of economy we’re trying to build.”
“We don’t want to just default, knee jerk, pull the immigration lever, but, that said, we want to be pragmatic, so in the short-term we know that there are some challenges.”
On the issue of tax rises, he added: “We made the difficult decision that we did and I think the Prime Minister deserves enormous credit for grappling with this long-running issue of social care reform, but it’s not something that we did lightly, it’s not something we want to do and, ideally, we wouldn’t have to do anything like that again.”
Sunak joked that he would cut up Boris Johnson’s “credit card” to rein back his public spending.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “That was an old thing but I think that’s something all chancellors say as part of our job.”