We are a tax-cutting government, insists Boris Johnson days before NI hike

30 March 2022, 13:21 | Updated: 30 March 2022, 13:50

Boris Johnson has insisted he and the Chancellor are still 'tax-cutting Tories'
Boris Johnson has insisted he and the Chancellor are still 'tax-cutting Tories'. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Boris Johnson insisted to MPs today that his Government is still a tax-cutting one, despite the looming national insurance hike as millions of families struggle with the cost-of-living crisis.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer opened Prime Minister's Questions by asking Mr Johnson if he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak are still "tax-cutting Conservatives".

In response the Prime Minister said he "certainly" thinks so, saying millions would have a "substantial tax cut" to mitigate the planned rise in National Insurance.

Read more: Welsh Tory comes out as first trans MP after revealing rape and £50,000 blackmail plot

Read more: The idea Boris will go over partygate is quaint during Ukraine war, says Andrew Marr

"This is the Government that has just introduced not only the biggest cut in fuel duty ever, but the biggest cut in tax for working people in the last 10 years - 70 per cent of the population paying national insurance contributions will have a substantial tax cut as a result of what the Chancellor did," he said.

He was heckled by opposition MPs, with one Labour MP heard shouting: "Rubbish!"

Mr Johnson replied: "They don't like it, Mr Speaker.

"They always put up taxes."

Starmer: Does the PM still think he's a tax-cutting Tory?

Sir Keir then instructed the Prime Minister to "cut the nonsense", saying the Government is giving £1 back for every £6 taken in taxes over "15 taxes rises, the highest tax burden for 70 years".

He asked: "Prime Minister, is that cutting taxes or is that raising taxes?"

"I don't know where he has been for the last two years but even by the standards of Captain Hindsight to obliterate the biggest pandemic for the last century from his memory, to obliterate the £408 billion we have had to spend to look after people up and down the country, is quite extraordinary," said the Prime Minister in response.

"This is a Government that is getting on with reducing the tax burden wherever we can, what we are doing - there is one measure I think he should be supporting - and that is the health and care levy to fund our NHS."

Read more: UK approves less than 10% of Homes for Ukraine applications as 2,700 visas granted

Read more: Gordon Brown accuses Sunak of not 'caring' about people struggling with living costs

Sir Keir then accused Mr Johnson of playing political games, saying: "In 2024, when there just so happens to be a general election, they will introduce a small tax cut.

"That is not taking difficult decisions, it's putting the Tory re-election campaign over and above helping people pay their bills.

"How did he find a Chancellor as utterly cynical as he is?"

The Prime Minister defended Mr Sunak, saying he is "a Chancellor who took the tough decisions to look after the UK economy throughout the pandemic".

Brown: Rishi's plan 'completely inadequate' for cost of living

It comes during a worsening cost of living crisis, with soaring energy bills, rising national insurance and inflation forcing more and more people to make the choice between heating their homes and putting food on the table.

It was previously announced that a UK-wide 1.25 percentage point increase in NI contributions will be introduced from April 6, with funds raised ring-fenced for health and social care.

On Wednesday a charity told LBC of a single mother who had to use a wax melt burner to cook baked beans for her children as she cannot afford to pay for gas and electrics.

Gerard Woodhouse, who runs the Liverpool-based L6 Community Centre that provides food and household items for families in need, said demand for their services was soaring and warned people could soon start dying as a result of the crisis.

"Fifty-two per cent of the people who come to our foodbank are working," said Mr Woodhouse.

"Nurses, teaching assistants, all coming for support, even though they earn a wage... these people, even though some say they are choosing between heating and eating, it's actually worse than that and we could end up seeing deaths due to this."