Rishi Sunak is under Conservative pressure to cut taxes, with even members of his Cabinet publicly calling for pre-election giveaways.
As the Tories gather in Manchester for the party’s conference, the Prime Minister resisted demands to lower the tax burden, insisting he is right to instead prioritise measures to cut inflation.
But Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said he wants cuts announced before the election to ease the tax burden on working households.
Mr Gove told Sunday Morning With Trever Phillips on Sky News: “Of course it is the case that taxes are higher than we would want them to be. That is a fact.
“It’s one that I believe is due principally to the pandemic but also to an extent to the war in Ukraine.
“I would like to see the tax burden reduced before the next election.”
Although Jeremy Hunt has played down the prospect of tax cuts in November’s Autumn Statement, the Chancellor is likely to have a Budget before the next election which is expected to be held in 2024.
Mr Gove suggested the focus should be on cutting taxes on work such as income tax or national insurance.
“We should incentivise people to work harder, we should make sure they are better rewarded for the enterprise, the effort, the endeavour that they put in,” he said.
But Mr Sunak refused to give the commitment to a pre-election tax cut sought by Mr Gove.
He told the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “The best tax cut we can give people is to halve inflation.”
He said that as a Conservative, “I want to cut taxes”, but he defended his prioritisation of inflation-reducing measures.
“Change may be difficult, but I believe the country wants change and I’m going to do things differently to bring about that change,” he said.
“You saw that last summer (during the Conservative leadership contest) when it came to this question, I said the most important priority we faced was to bring inflation down.
“It’s inflation that’s putting the prices of things up, inflation that’s making people feel poorer, the quicker we bring inflation down, the better it is, and that’s why it’s the right priority, and we are making good progress.”