U.K. Treasury chief Jeremy Hunt on Monday reversed most of an economic package announced by the government just weeks ago, including a planned cut to income tax.
In a bid to soothe turbulent financial markets, Hunt said he was scrapping “almost all” the tax cuts announced last month and signaled public spending cuts are on the way. He also scaled back a cap on energy prices designed to help households pay their bills. It will now be reviewed in April rather than lasting two years.
“It is a deeply held Conservative value — a value that I share — that people should keep more of the money that they earn,” Hunt said. “But at a time when markets are rightly demanding commitments to sustainable public finances, it is not right to borrow to fund this tax cut.”
Hunt was appointed Friday after Prime Minister Liz Truss fired Kwasi Kwarteng, who spent less than six weeks in the Treasury job. Truss and Kwarteng jointly came up with a Sept. 23 announcement of 45 billion pounds ($50 billion) in unfunded tax cuts that spooked financial markets, sent the pound to record lows and forced the Bank of England to take emergency action.
Monday’s hastily scheduled announcement came two weeks before Hunt is due to set out a medium-term fiscal plan.
The government had already ditched parts of its tax-cutting plan and announced it would make a medium-term fiscal statement on Oct. 31. But the market remained jittery, and Hunt has decided he must make a statement to calm the waters even sooner.
Hunt will also make a statement on Monday afternoon to the House of Commons.
Hunt spent the weekend in crisis talks with Truss, and also met with Bank of England Gov. Andrew Bailey and the head of the government’s Debt Management Office.
Get the Morning Rundown
Get a head start on the morning’s top stories.