Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak admits he is ‘uncomfortable’ with tax burden

·2 min read
Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak admits he is ‘uncomfortable’ with tax burden

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has admitted he is “uncomfortable” with the UK’s current tax burden which has risen to the highest level since the early 1950s.

Speaking the morning after delivering a big spending Budget in the House of Commons, committing an extra £150bn for Government departments, Mr Sunak repeated his pledge to try and lower taxes by the end of this Parliament in 2024-25.

“I acknowledge the tax burden is high, it’s not something I am comfortable with, it’s the result of the worst economic shock in 300 years,” he told Good Morning Britain.

He told Sky News: “My ambition is to lower taxes for people, that’s what I would like to do as Chancellor.

“We had to take some corrective action as a result of the crisis and the response we took to it. Hopefully that now is done and as we demonstrated [on Wednesday] our priority is to make sure work pays and we reward people’s effort.”

Some Conservative MPs are uneasy about the rising tax burden following the planned increase in National Insurance from next April and the hike in corporation tax to 25 per cent from 2023. They are also worried about the growing size of the state which is now at levels not seen since the 1980s.

But Mr Sunak said on Wendesday he was determined to curb the role of the state in the longer term but that the Covid pandemic had forced him to take emergency action to safeguard the economy.

A better than expected recovery since the pandemic means GDP is expected to grow by 6.5 per cent this year – up from the 4 per cent forecast in March by the OBR.

But the independent fiscal watchdog, the Office for Budget responsibility, also predicted that inflation could rise to an average of four per cent over the next year.

Although the Chancellor announced he was raising the National Living Wage, ending the public sector pay freeze and changing the taper rate on Universal Credit, economists warned that it may not be enough to ease the pressures on household finances.

Mr Sunak insisted the spike in prices was due to global forces beyond his control. He said: “I don’t have a magic wand and it would be irresponsible of me to tell you I can make those global problems disappear overnight, I can’t. But where the government can take action….where we can make a difference of course we will”.

Torsten Bell, from the Resolution Foundation think-tank, said the Budget was “good news on public finances but pretty bad news on household finances”.

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