Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled a slew of new proposals to kickstart the post-coronavirus lockdown UK economy to the House of Commons on Wednesday. The Cabinet minister pledged to cut VAT from 20 to 5 percent, raise the threshold for stamp duty tax and allocate employers a £1,000 bonus for keeping people on jobs when the furlough scheme ends. However, when confronted by LBC’s Nick Ferrari, the Chancellor would not “speculate” over a future tax rise to pay for his spending.
He said: “Of course we need to make sure we have sustainable public finances.
“I think I would differentiate between the things we do this year that are one-off and time-limited to help, in the first instance, protect people’s jobs, but also protect the long-term damage on our economy.
“I think those are the right things to do so that the long-term damage is minimised.
“The Office of Budget Responsibility, the Bank of England and these independent people have agreed that that is the right approach to take, and I stand by those decisions.”
READ MORE: ‘We’ll be bankrupt!’ Andrew Pierce furiously shuts down Labour plan
Mr Sunak continued: “Over the medium term, we obviously can’t live like this, everyone appreciates that, and we’ll have to return our public finances to a sustainable position over a reasonable period of time, that’s the right thing to do for the economy, not least, as we’ve seen, because things come along, and we need to be able to have the strength to respond to them.
“I will make the decisions that are required, difficult as they may be, to do that.
“I think it’s too early to say exactly what the shape of our recovery looks like, the time period over which that should happen and how it should happen, so I wouldn’t want to speculate now, but people should know I am very committed to making sure that we do that and I’m unafraid to make whatever difficult decisions are required.”
Mr Ferrari pressed his guest over tax increases, but the Chancellor insisted that he “wouldn’t want to speculate on the shape of the future”.
Mr Sunak told MPs that the Department for Work and Pensions will be given an extra £1billion to support millions of people back into work.
Employment measures announced in the package include expansion of support to young jobseekers, with £895 million to enhance work-search support by doubling the number of work coaches in jobcentres before the end of the financial year across Britain.
Shadow Chancellor Anneliese Dodds was clear that she “welcomed” some of Mr Sunak’s plans, but also warned that it doesn’t go far enough in other places.
She told GMB: “More needs to be done to prevent people becoming unemployed in the first place.
“I was really concerned that the Chancellor isn’t shifting away from his approach which is pretty much treating all sectors the same in terms of the job retention scheme.”