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Jeremy Hunt drops new pre-election Budget tax cut hint

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (PA Wire)
Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (PA Wire)

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has hinted at a tax-cutting Budget to come in March, as the Conservatives prepare for a general election later this year.

Speaking at Davos, Switzerland, where he is attending the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Chancellor said “the direction of travel” was for the UK to emulate successful low-tax economies.

“In terms of the direction of travel we look around the world and we note that the economies growing faster than us in North America and Asia tend to have lower taxes," he said on Thursday.

"And I believe fundamentally that low-tax economies are more dynamic, more competitive and generate more money for public services like the NHS.

“That’s the direction of travel we would like to go in but it is too early to say what we are going to do.”

In comments reported by Sky News, he said: "So my priority in the budget will be growth - because if I can grow the economy, that will mean that then we have more money for the NHS, we can relieve the pressure on families, we can invest in our brilliant armed forces."Mr Hunt is due to deliver his Budget on March 6.

The Tories have been dropping hints they could make attention-grabbing pledges on housing and taxes as Rishi Sunak struggles to turn around his party’s major deficit in the polls.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove previously suggested to the Times that the Conservatives will promise to cut the up-front cost of a home for first-time buyers in a pre-election giveaway.

With a general election not expected until the second half of 2024, the Chancellor may also be able to use an autumn statement to further ease the tax burden.

In comments reported by the Guardian, he said: “The Prime Minister hasn’t decided on the date of the election yet, or if he has he hasn’t told me.

“By law there have to be two fiscal events each year. We will see where we get to after the spring Budget."

Held every year in the Alpine ski resort of Davos, the WEF hosts thousands of attendees, from world leaders and business people to charities and academics, to discuss key global issues.

The huge invite-only conference includes hundreds of discussions, speeches, and panels, plus all-important networking that often extends into the early hours.From the UK’s side, Mr Hunt, Lord Cameron of Chipping Norton, the foreign secretary, and Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, are attending the event, along with Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor.