Years of austerity beckon for the next election’s unlucky winner

Jeremy Hunt’s tax giveaway comes at the price of our crumbling public services, as Sean O’Grady explains

Friday 24 November 2023 21:30
<p>‘The Alchemist’ </p>

‘The Alchemist’

There’s a belief that the worst Budgets are those that get a great reception on the day, only for the horrible underlying truths to emerge thereafter. This certainly seems to have been the case with Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement, when the initial euphoria about tax cuts was supplanted by a realisation that the tax burden is actually still set to rise – and for years to come.

So how did Hunt pay for the “tax cuts that never were”?

One obvious answer is through future stealth taxes imposed on working people for many years. The freeze in tax thresholds that began in 2021 is scheduled to continue until 2028, yielding something like £100bn in extra tax revenues. By contrast, the chancellor has “given back” a mere £20bn – very welcome but not so munificent when set in context.

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