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Hunt hints further tax cuts could be announced in spring budget

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The Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, has given a strong hint that he wants to cut taxes in the spring Budget.

Mr Hunt said that countries with lower taxes have more “dynamic, faster growing economies”.

In the Autumn Statement, the chancellor reduced national insurance for workers by 2% and announced tax relief for businesses.

If inflation falls, followed by lower interest rates, Mr Hunt may consider he has scope for further tax cuts.

Mr Hunt was speaking during his visit to the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Switzerland, where he is hoping to lure more investment to Britain.

He said the “direction of travel” indicates that economies growing faster than the UK, in North America and Asia tend to have lower taxes.

“I believe fundamentally that low-tax economies are more dynamic, more competitive and generate more money for public services like the NHS,” he added.

Mr Hunt did not offer any further detail on the scale of potential future tax cuts, as the government awaits a forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility.

However, it is widely expected that the chancellor will focus on income tax in the Budget on 6 March.

Currently, the overall tax burden is on course to rise to the highest level for decades as households are pushed into higher income tax brackets as a result of tax thresholds remaining at the same level for more than two years.

Usually tax thresholds rise in line with inflation, the rate at which prices increase,but the government has kept them at the same level since 2021 and they will remain frozen until 2028.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney MP said: “People have been left poorer by years of economic mismanagement under this government, and none of Jeremy Hunt’s vague promises can change that fact.

“We urgently need to boost investment in skills and the NHS to get people back into work and the economy growing again.”

While it is hoped that inflation will fall as the year goes on, it unexpectedly ticked up to 4% in December from 3.9% in November.

The chancellor said he was “confident” that inflation will continue to fall and that prices were “heading in the right direction”.

He said on Thursday: “I think it’s coming down. I think it will continue to fall.”

Lower inflation could help to pave the way for faster interest rate cuts by the Bank of England, as well as reducing the government’s huge debt interest bill.

In a bid to curb inflation, the Bank of England has held interest rates at 5.25% at its last three meetings, but rates are expected to be cut this later this year.

Lower debt interest payments alone could strengthen the chancellor’s hand in cutting taxes to the tune of almost £15bn.

However, the UK still remains at risk of recession, after official growth figures showed the UK economy shrank between July and September. A recession is usually defined as when the economy contracts for two three-month periods – or quarters – in a row.

While Mr Hunt insisted that it was “too early to know the extent to which we’ll be able to cut taxes”, he said the rapid fall in inflation was a sign that Britain’s economic prospects are improving.

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