Hunt to vow to 'get Britain growing' in Autumn statement as reports claim he will cut National Insurance

The Chancellor is set announce tax cuts and increased investment in firms to "get Britain growing" in his autumn statement on Wednesday, including a reported cut to national insurance for 28 million people.

The economy is "back on track", Jeremy Hunt will declare as he starts cutting taxes and pushes for business growth ahead of next year's election.

His deputy Laura Trott indicated on Tuesday that individuals will also benefit from tax cuts in a hint that either income tax or national insurance could be reduced.

The Times reported on Tuesday evening that Mr Hunt will cut national insurance for 28 million people and unveil permanent tax cuts for businesses.

The chancellor is expected to reduce the headline rates of national insurance for employees and the self-employed, it reported. A one per cent cut would cost about £5 billion and be worth roughly £380 a year to someone earning more than £50,000, it reported.

Meanwhile the minimum wage is to increase by £1 an hour to £11.44 from next April, with the eligible age for minimum wage dropping from 23 to 21.

It will mean an £1,800 annual pay rise next year for full-time workers on the national living wage, while 18 to 20-year-olds will receive a £1.11 hourly rise to £8.60. The increase will effect nearly three million low-paid workers.The Chancellor's statement in the House of Commons on Wednesday is expected to focus on backing businesses, with 110 different growth measures promised.

He will attempt to turn a corner after the Covid-19 pandemic and the energy price spike following Russia's invasion of Ukraine led to the highest tax burden since the Second World War and huge state interventions to support the stricken economy and hard-pressed households.

Mr Hunt will tell MPs: "The Conservatives will reject big government, high spending and high tax because we know that leads to less growth, not more."

With the Bank of England forecasting a stagnant economy in 2024, Mr Hunt will insist his plan can deliver growth and reduce the national debt.

"After a global pandemic and energy crisis, we have taken difficult decisions to put our economy back on track," he will say.

"We have supported families with rising bills, cut borrowing and halved inflation.

"The economy has grown. Real incomes have risen. Our plan for the British economy is working.

"But the work is not done. Conservatives know that a dynamic economy depends less on the decisions and diktats of ministers than on the energy and enterprise of the British people."

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepares for Autumn statement (Kirsty O'Connor/HM Treasury)
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt prepares for Autumn statement (Kirsty O'Connor/HM Treasury)

He will promise to cut business taxes, remove planning red tape and speed up access to the national grid.

There will be support for entrepreneurs to raise capital, measures to "get behind our fastest growing industries", policies to unlock foreign direct investment and measures to boost productivity, an issue which has dogged the UK economy for years.

"Taken together we will increase business investment in the UK economy by around £20 billion a year over the next decade and get Britain growing," Mr Hunt will say.

For almost three million workers, the Government has already announced an increase in the national living wage, which will rise from £10.42 to £11.44 from April, with the policy also extended to cover workers aged 21 and over, rather than 23 and over.

It will mean an £1,800 annual pay rise next year for a full-time worker on the living wage, while 18 to 20-year-olds will receive a £1.11 hourly rise to £8.60.

Treasury Chief Secretary Ms Trott has indicated that workers could be in line for a tax cut.

She told the BBC's Today programme the Government would focus on "cutting taxes for individuals".

The Chancellor is expected to take advantage of headroom in the public finances, allowing him to reduce taxes while still meeting his "fiscal rules" of having debt falling in the fifth year of the economic forecast and for borrowing to be less than 3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

This is partly due to increased tax receipts as a result of higher wages and the freeze in income tax thresholds.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: "After 13 years of economic failure under the Conservatives, working people are worse off.

"Prices are still rising in the shops, energy bills are up and mortgage payments are higher after the Conservatives crashed the economy.

"The 25 Tory tax rises since 2019 are the clearest sign of economic failure, with households paying £4,000 more in tax each year than they did in 2010.

"The Conservatives have become the party of high tax because they are the party of low growth. Nothing the Chancellor says or does in his autumn statement can change their appalling record."