Labour ‘will help themselves to your family’s wallets,’ Jeremy Hunt claims, as he says tax cuts to come under Tories

17 May 2024, 10:01 | Updated: 17 May 2024, 10:35

Jeremy Hunt delivered his speech from behind a lectern emblazoned with 'Labour's Tax rises'
Jeremy Hunt delivered his speech from behind a lectern emblazoned with 'Labour's Tax rises'. Picture: Alamy

By Kit Heren

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has claimed that Labour would help themselves to "your family's wallets" in a speech addressed to voters.

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Mr Hunt claimed that Labour would raise taxes if they came to power under Keir Starmer - in contrast to the Conservatives, and accused the party of lying.

"Keir Starmer’s first step will not be the motherhood and apple pie we heard yesterday, but to help himself to you and your family’s wallets," he said.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt arrives to give a speech about tax concessions
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt arrives to give a speech about tax concessions. Picture: Alamy

Labour said in response that Mr Hunt's speech was "desperate" and said that the Tories "crashed the economy". Both parties have accused the other of unfunded spending or fiscal plans.

Under current plans, the overall tax burden is expected to rise over the next five years to around 37% of GDP, close to a post-Second World War high.

Read more: Chancellor predicts 'interest rate cuts this summer' but refuses to say when - as UK economy comes out of recession

Read more: Jeremy Hunt admits Britain needs to increase defence spending – but no extra cash will be given before next election

Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech in Westminster in London, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt delivers a speech in Westminster in London, Friday, May 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth). Picture: Alamy

But the Chancellor said that it was necessary to pay for the furlough scheme during the pandemic and the energy bill bailout.

Mr Hunt said the big choice at the next general election would be about tax, and claimed that every Labour government since 1970 had raised the tax burden.

“Conservative governments never do so by choice, and we’ve never accepted such decisions need to be permanent," he said.

"That is why since that Autumn Statement [in 2022], decisions in my events have reduced the tax burden by 1% of GDP compared to what it would have been.

"Labour makes a different choice. For them higher tax is a means to a progressive end".

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt. Picture: Alamy

Mr Hunt claimed that under Labour would have to raise taxes to fund their plans for government, leaving a £38 billion gap of "unfunded spending".

He added: "Calling them a ‘myth’ is about as rude as I can get, but frankly it is a lie.

"I don’t make any bones about it. It is fake news and it is an absolute disgrace to try to win this election by scaring pensioners about a policy that is not true."

He added: "Our argument is this is about the future growth of our economy... More lightly-taxed economies have more dynamic private sectors, they grow faster and in the end that means more money for precious public services like the NHS."

The Chancellor refused to commit to raising income tax thresholds, which have been described as a "stealth tax".

He said: "I can't today tell you what will be in the Conservative manifesto for the next parliament.

"But what I can do is make a very clear argument that we will bring down taxes, and I can do so with credibility because that is already what we have been doing."

Speaking to LBC News with Lisa Aziz, Shadow Science Minister & Labour MP for Hove Peter Kyle said: "I just wish this government and any person who is in this Tory Government would accept responsibility for what they have delivered to our economy and country.

"Jeremy Hunt is part of a government that has put taxes up to a 70 year high.

"Even after the gimmicky tax cuts that they have announced in the last budget come in - most average people in this country will be £780 worse off, because of the other tax rises that are still coming in - and have been put in by the by this government.

"So, they have no credibility on this whatsoever."

"Mr Hunt also claimed that Britain's economy has "turned a corner", while admitting that it would take time for that "to feed through to how people feel".

Mr Hunt
Mr Hunt . Picture: Alamy

A Labour spokesperson said in response: "This is another desperate attempt by the Tories to deflect from their £46 billion unfunded tax plan that could lead to higher borrowing, higher taxes on pensioners or the end of the state pension as we know it.

"All of Labour's policies are fully costed and fully funded. Unlike the Conservatives, who crashed the economy, Labour will never play fast and loose with the public finances.

"Jeremy Hunt would be better spent getting Rishi Sunak to confirm the date of the election, rather than putting out any more of these dodgy dossiers."

Labour not scaling back government ambitions, Starmer insists at campaign launch

It comes after Labour set out its six pledges ahead of the next general election.

Speaking on Thursday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer promised to deliver economic security, cut NHS waiting times, create a new border security command, set up a nationalised energy company, crack down on anti social behaviour, and recruit 6,500 new teachers.

They will be the first things the party will do if Labour wins the keys to power at the upcoming election.

Sir Keir said in a speech that Labour wants to show voters that "decline is not inevitable" and that "politics can make a difference".

He told Labour activists: "One card, six steps, in your hand - a plan to change the country. This is a message to take to every doorstep in the country."

Andrew Marr challenges Richard Holden on what Labour pledges he opposes

Speaking to LBC's Andrew Marr following the announcement, Tory party chairman Richard Holden said the six pledges were just "woolly ideas".

He added that he "doesn’t believe" the party will deliver on its promises on neighbourhood policing and NHS waiting times.

"I was looking at the neighbourhood policing pledge, for example, which goes totally counter to what Labour in government, actually in local government as the Mayor of London, has been doing," Mr Holden said.

"He's stopped borough policing in London, there is no borough policing in the boroughs, yet Labour's talk about wanting neighbourhood police officers when they're actually able to deliver these things.

"They're not delivering what they say. I don't believe them, because when they are able to deliver it, they're not delivering it.

"Look at the waiting lists in Wales, right, I want to see waiting lists come down right across the country, whether it's in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and they're obviously higher than we'd like them to be because of the pandemic.

"But the one place that they are significantly higher, very much higher than in England, is in Wales. And who's been running Wales for the last 25 years?

"The Labour Party, and they get more funding per head there. I would just ask people, it's all very well to lay out these woolly ideas, but when it comes down to it, just like we've seen with their GB energy policy, there's now a £12 billion hole.

"Let's be clear with the people about what it actually looks like as well."

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