UK’s self-billed ‘Scrooge’ promises tax rises, spending cuts

UK’s self-billed ‘Scrooge’ promises tax rises, spending cuts

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s Treasury chief warned Sunday of a coming spending crunch and tax increases for cash-strapped Britons as he bids to fill the “black hole” in the country’s finances.

Billing himself as a Scrooge figure ahead of Thursday’s Autumn Statement, when he will update Parliament on the government’s budget measures, Jeremy Hunt said he was forced to make “very difficult decisions” in his attempt to curb inflation and put the economy back on an even keel.

He told British broadcasters that he was determined to make an expected recession as shallow as possible, and warned that everyone could expect to pay more tax.

“I’m a Conservative chancellor and I think I’ve been completely explicit that taxes are going to go up, and that’s a very difficult thing for me to do because I came into politics to do the exact opposite,” he told the BBC, using his official title, Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Hunt is seeking to make up to 60 billion pounds ($71 billion) in savings and extra revenue in a bid to tighten up public finances and undo some of the damage economists say was done by his predecessor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and former prime minister Liz Truss.

According to the Resolution Foundation, a think tank, Truss and Kwarteng blew 20 billion pounds on unfunded cuts to national insurance and stamp duty, with a further 10 billion lost to higher interest rates and Government borrowing costs.

Hunt said he would continue his predecessor’s pledge to help Britons with soaring energy bills, but added government departments could expect to see cuts.

Earlier he told The Sunday Times in an interview “I’m Scrooge who’s going to do things that make sure Christmas is never canceled.”

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