‘It just doesn’t feel very Tory’: Andrew Castle asks Conservative MP to explain the positives of the Autumn Statement

19 November 2022, 12:38 | Updated: 20 November 2023, 13:38

Tax rises do not 'feel very Tory'

By Phoebe Dampare Osei

“This is a trillion that the state will be taking in to spend or redistribute”, says Andrew Castle, as he and Conservative MP Richard Graham unpack the tax hikes of Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement.

Andrew Castle spoke with Conservative MP Richard Graham about the Autumn Statement delivered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt earlier this week.

The Member for Gloucester acknowledged some of it was “difficult stuff”, but added that “anything that produces a record-ever increase for the national living wage up 9.7% or £1600 a year is good news for a lot of people in my constituency who are not on big salaries at all”.

“Okay, so you’ve picked one thing out on the positive side”, said Andrew. “Is it great news that we have fiscal drag on an industrial scale? A six year freeze on income tax thresholds - these tax rises to begin next year, spending cuts after the election I grant you, the biggest state of all time.

“This is a trillion that the state will be taking in to spend or redistribute. It just doesn’t feel very Tory”, he said.

READ MORE: ‘You couldn’t get more Labour if you tried’ says caller, after Autumn Statement tax rises

The MP replied: “Any Conservative government would love to cut taxes, allow people to keep more of the money they earn and spend it on what they choose, but I think in today's environment everybody realises the attempt to go for growth growth growth and just do it through unfunded tax cuts did not work.

“Markets reacted savagely, people’s mortgage rates were shooting up, so this has to be different and I think a more responsible approach which focuses on these three things that Jeremy Hunt outlined - stability, growth and public services", he said.

This was in reference to the fallout from September’s mini-budget, brought in by Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng.

The 45p tax rate cut in particular was met with a rare issue of rebuke from the International Monetary Fund, and Kwasi Kwarteng eventually made a U-turn on the policy, with Chancellor Hunt scrapping most of it within days of his succession.

READ MORE: Chancellor urged to rethink tax plans as IMF issues unprecedented attack saying they will ‘increase inequality’

The Office for Budget Responsibility were reportedly sidelined in the production of the mini-budget, much to the disapproval of former Chancellor George Osborne.

Andrew had previously asked his listeners during his show: “How did a £55bn black hole suddenly develop after, as some narratives would have us believe, Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss did their worst and then paid the ultimate political price for that?"

Andrew Castle asks listeners how a £55bn black hole suddenly developed

As the threshold for the higher rate of income tax drops to £37,701 from over £50,000, Andrew Castle also asked if middle income earners were truly the ones with the “broadest shoulders”.

Other major announcements from the Autumn Statement include benefits and pensions going up by 10.1% in line with inflation from next April, the living wage will rise to £10.42 per hour, and electric vehicle owners will have to pay road tax from 2025.