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Chancellor refuses to rule out tax rises, swerves on whether he could live on UK Sick Pay

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has refused to rule out announcing new tax rises for the rest of the year.

At Treasury Questions on Tuesday, Mr Sunak failed to answer a simple yes or no question from opposite number Anneliese Dodds on whether he planned to make announcements of tax rises before the end of 2020.

And when asked by Dodds to comment on warnings from his two immediate predecessors in the Treasury that the Government’s threat to breach international law could damage the UK’s economic prosperity, Mr Sunak rolled out meaningless platitudes about “Global Britain”.

Dodds described this as reflecting a lack of concern about the country’s future economic prosperity.

Mr Sunak also declined to say whether he could survive on Statutory Sick Pay at £95 a week, amid rumours that it is the Chancellor who is blocking efforts to improve it.

When asked by Dodds if he agreed with the Secretary of State for Health that Statutory Sick Pay in the UK is not enough to live on, Mr Sunak said
“We are trialling incentive payments in local lockdown areas”

But the instruction to self-isolate applies nationally, and is supposed to avoid the spikes in coronavirus cases that lead to local lockdowns in the first place.

The Treasury front bench also failed on six occasions to commit to stepping away from the Chancellor’s one-size-fits-all furlough cliff edge.

Speaking after Treasury Questions, Anneliese Dodds said:

“The Chancellor was asked a simple yes or no question about whether he would rule out announcing new tax rises this year – and he failed to answer it.

“It only fuels speculation that he wants to hike taxes now just so he can cut them before the next election. He’s playing politics with people’s jobs and livelihoods.

“The Chancellor should be focused relentlessly on protecting jobs, not floating a tax and cuts agenda that could choke off our national recovery just when the economy is at its weakest.”

On sick pay “The Chancellor refused to say whether he could survive on Statutory Sick Pay at just £95 a week.

“We already know the Health Secretary doesn’t think UK sick pay is enough to live on.

“Rishi Sunak’s evasive answers did nothing to dampen the suspicion that he is blocking efforts to make it better.”