John Glen has admitted he is “alarmed” at the current level of taxes in the UK but insisted he wouldn’t call for cuts ahead of the Autumn Statement, PoliticsHome reported.
The chief secretary to the Treasury, speaking to the House magazine, said he understood his party colleagues’ “discomfort” with taxation – currently the highest since the 1940s.
He said: “I totally get my colleagues’ discomfort with people paying more tax.
“I think there’s plenty in my party who are pretty alarmed at the level of tax. I’m alarmed at the amount of tax!”
But he insisted that the government must focus on the debt burden, which sits at over six per cent of GDP.
It follows reports from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that as a share of GDP, Britain’s tax burden will have soared to 37 per cent by the next election, a four per cent rise on 2019.
“Debt interest spending in 2022 to 2023 was £112.1bn; that’s more than six per cent of GDP,” Glen said. “That’s higher than any G7 nation. Those are the facts. They’re unpalatable facts, but they can’t be avoided.”
It comes just two weeks ahead of Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s much-anticipated Autumn Statement on November 22, expected to be a key set piece for the government as it ramps up for a general election next year, following a muted King’s Speech yesterday.
Hunt is being urged by senior Tories to deliver a “bold and decisive” programme, the Times reported, despite well-reported government concerns tax cuts risk fuelling more inflation.
And Glen added: “We’d love to be able to cut more, but we’ve also got to be responsible, make the numbers add up, see debt falling at the end of the period and deal with our primary consideration, which is inflation.
“You can’t shut down the economy four months after we come in [following the 2019 election], borrow that amount of money, then find we’ve got the Ukraine war, inflation and interest rates going up.
“There ain’t no shortcut to deal with that, and anyone who says there is doesn’t recognise the public finances as they are… I want to give more money back, but I want to do that responsibly.”