UK Politics

New tax cuts unlikely before 2015, says Danny Alexander

Danny Alexander
Image caption Danny Alexander said he wanted to "rebalance" the tax system to make it fairer

New tax cuts are unlikely within the next five years, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has said.

In an interview with the Observer newspaper he said the overall tax burden was likely to remain at its current level for "quite some time", to help reduce the UK's deficit.

He appeared to dismiss more tax cuts before 2015 but stressed that a fair, rebalanced tax system was the priority.

Later this week ministers will meet to discuss departmental spending cuts.

In the newspaper interview, Mr Alexander - Chancellor George Osborne's deputy - said: "I think the tax burden is necessary as a significant contribution to getting the country's finances in order. So it will have to stay at that level for quite some time."

When asked whether a reduction in the overall tax burden was possible once the country's books were in order, the minister added: "You are asking me to take decisions for five years down the line now and I am not going to do that."

Mr Alexander stressed that a fair, rebalanced tax system was the priority.

He suggested that higher earners would have little respite from tax to look forward to before 2015.

"The plan we set out is to rebalance the tax system," he said.

"We need the tax revenues from the taxes we are putting up to help us reduce the deficit."

In the Budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced plans to cut taxes for the poorest by gradually increasing the personal allowance to £10,000.

However, VAT and capital gains tax were increased.

BBC political correspondent Ben Wright said Mr Alexander's comments "may well irritate some members of the Conservative half of the coalition [who were] hoping that steep spending cuts might open the door to further tax cuts before the next election".

"The government wants to eliminate the structural deficit within five years - and spending cuts are doing most of the work," said our correspondent.

Cabinet ministers will meet later this week to discuss the submissions from most departments to cut their spending by between 25% and 40%.

Departments had been ordered to draw up plans for spending cuts of up to 40% ahead of a comprehensive spending review in October.

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