Sajid Javid has suggested that the government’s planned income tax cut be postponed until next year, circumstances permitting.
In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to cut the basic income tax rate from 20p to 19p in the pound before the end of the current legislature in 2024.
He said it was ‘fully costed’ and represented a ‘£5bn tax cut for over 30m people’.
Since then, pressure has continued to mount on Mr Johnson from within his own ranks, with unrest over the party saga exacerbated by senior civil servant Sue Gray’s findings about it and concerns over the high levels of taxes and expenditures.
It culminated in a deadly Tory revolt against Mr Johnson’s leadership earlier this week, with 148 of his own MPs voting against him in a confidence vote.
Asked whether the income tax cuts could be carried over to next year, Mr Javid told The Times he knew the Chancellor would want to cut taxes “as soon as he can”.
“He has a plan, and I’m sure he would agree that he would like to implement it as quickly as possible,” the health secretary said.
“And if it can be advanced, of course it should be advanced.”
He argued that the “best way” to fund public services was to have a “vibrant, low-tax, growth-inducing economy”.
“This growth will naturally lead to increased state revenue that can fund services,” he said.
I know he (Sunak) will want to cut taxes as soon as he can
“I’m a low-tax conservative – that’s one of the reasons I’m a conservative and I want to see a small state that’s focused on delivering the things that really matter. And I want to see taxes as low as possible.
It comes after he added his voice to calls for tax cuts on Wednesday, saying he “would like to see us do more”.
Mr Javid acknowledged the pandemic had brought “challenges to public finances”, but told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would like to see cuts where possible.
“And I know that’s something the government takes very seriously and I know that’s something the Chancellor will look into.”
In a bid to get his job as prime minister back on track, the prime minister gave a keynote speech on Thursday reaffirming his commitment to cutting taxes and outlining plans to expand the right to buy.
Speaking in Blackpool, he said he wanted to reduce the tax burden as soon as possible and reduce the size of government.
But he later declined to elaborate on his tax cut plans, saying: “On what Rishi (Sunak) and I are talking about tax measures, you’re just going to have to contain your impatience there.”
Mr Johnson said the Government was ‘strongly inclined to stimulate more growth, more productivity with tax cuts as they become reasonable’.
He added: “The cost of housing is a big chunk of expenses, transportation is a big chunk, childcare is a big chunk, energy is a steadily growing chunk, but taxation is the most important. of all and we certainly aim to reduce it.”
In light of this week’s vote of confidence, Mr Javid told The Times that people will want to see the Tories’ “delivery”.
The cost of housing is a big chunk of expense, transportation is a big chunk, child care is a big chunk, energy is an ever-increasing chunk, but taxes are the most important of all and we’re aiming definitely reduce it
“Most colleagues would agree, especially given what happened on Monday, that people want to see the government boldly and radically address the challenges facing the country,” he said.
“People are going to want to see the delivery. They want us to focus on the Conservatives’ problems.
On Covid, he said Britain is now “properly post-pandemic” and should be “proud” of how it has approached the crisis.
“Of course Covid is still out there,” he said.
“Covid is endemic like the flu and other viruses. Fortunately, it is no longer a pandemic and we have the tools to fight it.