Hunt SLASHES National Insurance as he pulls rabbit out of a hat for working Britons but WHAT about proper TAX cuts Mr Chancellor?

Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has boasted success on three key measures for the British economy, before going on to outline major tax cuts for Britain

Millie Cooke

By Millie Cooke

Published: 22/11/2023

- 07:35

Updated: 07/02/2024

- 15:12

The Chancellor announced a swathe of measures in a bid to satisfy frustrated Tory backbenchers

  • The Chancellor announced a 2 per cent cut to employee National Insurance, also cutting contributions for self-employed people
  • The Government will honour its commitment to the state pension triple lock, while benefits will rise in line with September's inflation figures
  • Alcohol duty frozen until August 2024
  • The economy will grow by 0.6 per cent this year, according to OBR forecasts
  • Rachel Reeves warns 'taxes on working people are too high'

Jeremy Hunt has slashed bills for hard-working Britons, clamped down on benefit claimants and handed businesses the "biggest tax cut in modern British history".

But questions are still being asked over why the Government has not yet introduced proper tax cuts, after the Office for Budget Responsibility revealed that the UK's tax burden is still on course to reach a post-Second World War high of 38 per cent of GDP.

“While personal and business tax cuts reduce the tax burden by half a percentage point, it still rises in each of the next five years to a post-war high of 38 per cent of GDP,” the OBR said.

Labour's Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves pointed out that taxes will be higher at the next election than they were at the last, telling the Commons that she has “long argued that taxes on working people are too high”.

The Shadow Chancellor also claimed that working people are “worse off” despite the Government’s promises.

Hunt announced a two per cent cut to the main rate of employee National Insurance, reducing it from 12 to ten per cent from January 6th. He also announced cuts to National Insurance contributions for the self-employed.

Opening his speech, the Chancellor boasted success on three key measures for the British economy, before going on to outline major tax cuts for Britain.

He claimed the Government is delivering on all three of the Prime Minister’s economic pledges, to halve inflation, grow the economy and reduce debt.

Hunt also told MPs that while the Government's plan for the British economy is "working", he warned: "The work is not done".

He vowed the Government will “reduce debt, cut taxes and reward work”.

Hunt told the Commons: “In today’s autumn statement for growth our choice is not big government, high spending and high tax because we know that leads to less growth, not more.

“Instead we reduce debt, cut taxes and reward work. We deliver world class education. We build domestic sustainable energy.

“And we back British business with 110 growth measures – don’t worry, I’m not going to go through them all – which remove planning red tape, speed up access to the national grid, support entrepreneurs raising capital, get behind our fastest growing industries, unlock foreign direct investment, boost productivity, reform welfare, level up opportunity to every corner of the country, and cut business taxes.”

WATCH: Jeremy Hunt delivers his budget to the House of Commons

Concluding the autumn statement, Hunt said the UK could become Europe’s “most prosperous” economy, adding: “In the face of global challenges, we have halved inflation, reduced our debt and grown our economy.

He told the Commons: “As a country we are sticking to a plan that is working. This autumn statement for growth will attract £20bn more business investment a year in the next decade, bring tens of thousands more people into work, and support our fastest growing industries.

“In a package which leaves borrowing lower, debt lower, and keeps inflation falling, we are delivering the biggest business tax cut in modern British history, the largest-ever cut to employee and self-employed national insurance, and the biggest package of tax cuts to be implemented since the 1980s.”

Jeremy Hunt's Big Announcements

Universal Credit

Jeremy Hunt confirmed in his speech today that benefits will rise in line with September's inflation figure - 6.7 per cent.

He described the move as "vital support" from a compassionate Conservative Government.

Hunt aid this would be an “average increase of £470 for 5.5 million households next year”.

Alcohol Duty

Hunt also announced that alcohol duty will be frozen, in a boost for British pubs and restaurants.

It will be frozen until August 2024.

The Chancellor said: "As well as confirming our Brexit Pubs Guarantee, which means duty on a pint is always lower than in the shops, I have decided to freeze all alcohol duty until August 1st next year.

“That means no increase in duty on beer, cider, wine or spirits.”


Hunt announced a £7 million package to tackle antisemitism in schools and universities.

Hunt expressed his “horror” at the attack on Israeli citizens on October 7 and the subsequent loss of life on both sides.

He said: “I am deeply concerned about the rise of antisemitism in our country, so I am announcing up to £7 million over the next three years for organisations like the Holocaust Educational Trust to tackle antisemitism in schools and universities.

“I will also repeat the £3 million uplift to the Community Security Trust.

“When it comes to antisemitism and all forms of racism, we must never allow the clock to be turned back.”

Pensions Triple lock

Today's Autumn Statement also saw Jeremy Hunt confirm that the Government will honour its commitment to the state pension triple lock, increasing pensions by 8.5 per cent.

The Chancellor said this is “one of the largest-ever cash increases of the state pension”.

Hunt said: “The triple lock has helped lift 250,000 older people out of poverty since it was instituted in 2011 and been a lifeline for many during a period of high inflation.

“There have been reports that we would uprate it by a lower amount to smooth out the effect of high public sector bonuses in July, but that would have been particularly difficult for one million pensioners whose only income is from the state.

“So instead, today we honour our commitment to the triple lock in full."

Debt falling as a percentage of GDP

The Chancellor said the UK is on track to meet its goal of having debt falling as a percentage of GDP.

He claimed the British economy has “outperformed expectations” since last year’s Autumn Atatement, adding: “We therefore meet our fiscal rule to have underlying debt falling as a percentage of GDP in the final year of the forecast, with double the headroom compared to the OBR’s March forecast.

“And we continue to have the second lowest government debt in the G7 – lower than the United States, Canada, France, Italy or Japan.”

Jeremy Hunt

Today's Autumn Statement also saw Jeremy Hunt confirm that the Government will honour its commitment to the state pension triple lock, increasing pensions by 8.5 per cent


Defence Spending

The Chancellor confirmed the UK will continue to meet its Nato commitment to spend 2 per cent of the country's GDP on defence.

He also promised to "extend national insurance relief for employers of eligible veterans for a further year and provide £10 million to support the Veterans’ Places, Pathways and People programme.”

Growth forecast

Hunt announced that the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that the economy will grow by 0.6 per cent this year.

It has forecast 0.7 per cent growth in 2024, and 1.4 percent in 2025.

This is a revised forecast, down from previous estimates of 1.8 per cent for 2024 and 1.4 per cent for 2025.

Hunt told the Commons: "If we want those numbers to be higher, we need higher productivity", announcing 110 measures to increase the UK’s productivity.

He pointed to countries like France and the US where the private sector “invests more”, adding: “The 110 measures I take today help close that gap by boosting business investment by £20bn a year.

“They do not involve borrowing more and ramping up debt as some advocate.

“Instead, they unlock investment with supply-side reforms that back British business in the following areas.”

Artificial Intelligence

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt promised to invest a further £500 million over the next two years to fund further “innovation centres to help make us an AI powerhouse”.

National Insurance

Jeremy Hunt announced that he will abolish class 2 National Insurance, saving the average self-employed person £192 per year.

Hunt also announced a cut to class 4 national insurance - paid at nine per cent on all earnings between £12,570 and £50,270 - to eight per cent, a move he said would save 2 million self-employed people around £350 a year.

The Chancellor hailed self-employed people as the people who "kept our country running during the pandemic".

Hunt also announced that he will cut the main rate of employee National Insurance by two per cent from 12 per cent to ten per cent, using urgent legislation to bring the change in from January 6th.

National Living Wage

Hunt announced an increase to the National Living Wage, boosting it by 9.8% to £11.44 an hour.

He claimed the move is "the largest ever cash increase in the national living wage, worth up to £1,800 for a full-time worker".

The Chancellor told the commons: “Since the national living wage has been introduced, the proportion of people on low pay, defined as earning less than two thirds of national median hourly income, has halved.

“But at the new rate of £11.44 an hour it delivers our manifesto commitment to eliminate low pay altogether.

“That means by next year someone working full-time on the national living wage will see their real take-home after-tax pay go up not by 25% but by 30% compared to 2010.”

Full expensing

Jeremy Hunt announced that he will make full expensing for businesses permanent, describing it as the “largest business tax cut in modern British history”.

Full expensing is a tax policy that allows businesses to fully deduct the cost of certain capital investments.

Hunt told the Commons: “It means we have not just the lowest headline corporation tax rate in the G7 but its most generous capital allowances.”

He said the reform had been estimated to cost £11 billion a year, and stressed he had only brought it forward now it was “affordable”.

Hunt claimed the tax change was “a huge boost to British competitiveness”, having told MPs: “The OBR say it will increase annual investment by around £3 billion a year and a total of £14 billion over the forecast period. We on this side of the House know that the way to back British business is not to borrow more or subsidise more but increase the incentives to invest.”

Rachel Reeves snaps back 

Rachel Reeves

Reeves told the Commons that she has “long argued that taxes on working people are too high”


Rachel Reeves has hit back at Jeremy Hunt over today's budget, claiming that taxes will be higher at the next election than they were at the last.

She told the Commons that she has “long argued that taxes on working people are too high”.

The Shadow Chancellor also claimed that working people are “worse off” despite the Government’s promises.

Reeves said: “From their failure to uprate income tax or national insurance bands, to forcing councils to raise council tax, the Conservatives have pushed the costs of their failure onto others.

“But the British people won’t be taken for fools. They know that what has been announced today owes more to the cynicism of a party desperate to cling onto power than the real priorities of this high-tax, low-growth Conservative Government.

“So I think we can forgive taxpayers for not celebrating when they see the truth behind today’s announcements. Going into this statement the Government had already put in place tax increases worth the equivalent of a 10p increase in national insurance.

“So today’s 2p cut will not remotely compensate for the tax (increases) already put in place by this Conservative Government. The fact is that taxes will be higher at the next election than they were at the last.”

Reeves also accused the PM of “arguing against himself” on national insurance, referring to the cut in the headline rate.

She said: “I’m old enough to remember when the Prime Minister wanted to put up national insurance.

“As recently as January last year, he said and I quote, ‘we must go ahead with the increase in the health and care levy, it is progressive in that the burden falls most on those who can most afford it’.

“Utter nonsense. It was a tax on working people and we opposed it for that very reason.

“Yet again, the Prime Minister is left arguing against himself.”

Business reaction

British Beer and Pub Association 'raises a glass to the Chancellor'

Emma McClarkin, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association said the industry "wholeheartedly" welcomes the changes announced today, saying "Britain’s publicans and brewers will be raising a glass to the Chancellor tonight".

Reacting to the Autumn Statement, she said: "The Government today have backed British business by supporting Britain’s great pubs and brewers the almost a million jobs across the country and the beating heating of communities.

“We wholeheartedly welcome the Chancellor’s decisions to freeze beer duty until August 2024, freeze the small business rates multiplier, and maintain a business rate relief of 75 per cent both vital lifelines for the sector. These policy decisions will save our sector around £350 million.

"They will help deliver growth across cities, towns and villages all over the UK, helping to level up the nation and underpin truly national growth in local economies at the heart of our communities.

"This investment in our sector is critical, particularly as National Living Wage increases - at more than double the rate of inflation - will add over £240 million to pub wage bills at this challenging time.

“Britain’s publicans and brewers will be raising a glass to the Chancellor tonight, who has once again recognised the importance of our nation’s pubs and brewers to the economy and communities, and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the Government to unlock the UK’s further economic growth.”

FairFuel accuses Hunt of a 'missed opportunity to generate real and significant economic growth'

Howard Cox, founder of FairFuel UK and London Mayoral Candidate for ReformUK, said: "Despite no mention of any positive support for drivers, and following FairFuelUK’s widely respected objective Campaigning since 2011, it would be churlish for me not to thank the Chancellor, for maintaining the freeze in Fuel Duty for the 13th year in succession.

"I assume that is indeed the case by its absence in his speech. The threat of Rishi Sunak’s Budget temporary 5p cut in duty being reversed in the 2024 Budget still hangs over motorists' heads. That event could have been quashed completely today.

"But I must remind his department again, and all that have occupied the Chancellor's seat since, that inflation could be reduced massively more, had he reduced this needlessly high regressive levy significantly, partnered too, by an effective pump pricing watchdog, a PumpWatch with real teeth. Both should have been in place from today. A missed set of election opportunities that may doom the Conservative Party to the opposition benches for a generation."

"It's clear that UK's 37m drivers persist as pure cash cows, not the fiscal solution to stimulating economic growth they so deserve but remain as a chronic bottomless pit of hard-earned cash to pay off the Government's mounting debt of fiscal incompetence."

ETI warns the minimum wage increase could 'bite small businesses'

Jason Webb, managing director of Electronic Temperature Instruments (ETI), has warned Hunt's National Living Wage increase could "bite small businesses".

He said: "It’s a tough one as it’s a balancing act and they need to find the right formula. On the one hand employees should of course have more money in their pay packet. But on the other this could bite small businesses, particularly in the catering and hospitality industry.

"Restaurants will have to offset the cost of having to pay their staff up to £2,300 more a year by passing it onto the consumer.

"Amidst a cost-of-living crisis where everyone is feeling the pinch, consumers may become less inclined to eat out should costs rise even further, which in turn will only hurt businesses. Less people eating in restaurants but having to pay their staff this sizably larger wage is a recipe for disaster for some smaller businesses in the hospitality industry.

"Everyone deserves a fair wage, but changes like this need to be offset with some support for those who it will impact the most."

You may like