MANCHESTER, England, Oct 1 – British finance minister Jeremy Hunt on Monday will announce a rise in the minimum wage in his annual Conservative party conference speech, where he is expected to ignore a growing clamour for tax cuts within his party.
The extracts of the speech released by the party made no reference to taxes after Conservative lawmakers and even senior minister Michael Gove have called for tax cuts ahead of an election expected next year.
On Saturday Hunt ruled out near-term tax cuts ahead of a mid-year fiscal statement due on Nov. 22, and he has supported Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s goal to halve inflation, rather than lower taxes, this year.
In the meantime, average weekly earnings have risen sharply for workers across the board, which the Bank of England has said is its biggest concern regarding inflationary pressures.
On Monday Hunt will announce that the living wage, the minimum wage for workers over 23 years old, will rise to at least 11 pounds ($13.42) an hour from 10.42 pounds.
“We are waiting for the Low Pay Commission to confirm its recommendation for next year. But I confirm today, whatever that recommendation, we will increase it next year to at least 11 pounds an hour,” Hunt will say.
He will also announce a review that seeks to toughen the benefit sanctions system.
Prior to Hunt’s speech, former Prime Minister Liz Truss will put pressure on the government to lower taxes in her only expected intervention at this year’s conference.
A year ago as prime minister, she had to scale back her tax-cutting plans in a U-turn at conference, and the market turmoil she sparked forced her resignation in October.
However, since then she has stuck to her message that lower tax, especially for businesses, is part of what Britain needs to spark growth.
($1 = 0.8199 pounds)
Reporting by Alistair Smout, Elizabeth Piper and Andrew MacAskill; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise
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