Treasury minister refuses to rule out tax rises in autumn statement

A Treasury minister has refused to rule out tax rises at next month’s Autumn Statement amid a Tory rebellion.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Victoria Atkins was asked twice if Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will hike taxes on November 22.

But Ms Atkins did not rule out further increases.

She told Times Radio: “We have the lowest tax burden of any major European economy.

“Nobody likes paying taxes, I absolutely understand that, but I think we all understand that the social contract is that we pay our taxes so that we can contribute towards our society and to pay for the services we all care so very deeply about and we’ve got to do that in a sound, fiscal and responsible way.”

She highlighted recent pressures on the public finances including the Covid pandemic and Ukraine war.

Asked again if she could say whether the tax burden will go up, she went on: “I absolutely understand why people are calling for lower taxes.

“But it is important to explain why we’ve had to, for example, increase taxes on the most profitable largest businesses in the UK to try and help pay off some of that debt that we have on our Government books at the moment.

“And this is why reducing debt is the third of the Prime Minister’s priorities because just as inflation and interest rates have hit us all in our purses and our pockets, so too it has an impact on Government spending, Government money I should say.

“We know that in recent months the cost of servicing that Government debt has risen and that means that money that we would otherwise like to either spend on public services we care so deeply about or indeed spend on tax cuts, that money instead is being used to service Government debt.

“That’s why you have got the Prime Minister’s three-pronged approach to this, halving inflation, growing the economy and reducing debt.

“And that’s how we are going to ensure that in the longer term we as Conservatives are able to offer tax cuts to the country.”

It comes as dozens of rebel Tory MPs, including former PM Liz Truss, have signed a pledge vowing not to vote for the Autumn Statement if it contains tax rises.

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