Sajid Javid has suggested the Government’s planned income tax cut should be brought forward to next year, if circumstances allow.
In March, Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged to cut the basic rate of income tax from 20p to 19p in the pound before the end of the current parliament, in 2024.
He said this was “fully costed”, and represented a “£5 billion tax cut for over 30 million people”.
Since then, pressure has continued to build on Mr Johnson from within his own ranks, with unrest over the partygate saga exacerbated by senior civil servant Sue Gray’s findings on the matter, and concerns over high levels of tax and spending.
This culminated in a bruising Tory revolt against Mr Johnson’s leadership earlier this week, with 148 of his own MPs voting against him in a confidence ballot.
Asked whether cuts in income tax could be brought forward to next year, Mr Javid told The Times that he knows the Chancellor will want to slash taxes “as soon as he can”.
“He set out a plan, and I’m sure he would agree that he would want to deliver on that as quickly as possible,” the Health Secretary said.
“And if that can be brought forward, of course, it should be brought forward.”
He argued the “best way” to finance public services was to have a “dynamic, low-tax economy that generates growth”.
“That growth will naturally lead to rising revenues for the state that can fund the services,” he said.
“I’m a low-tax Tory — it’s one of the reasons I’m a Conservative and I want to see a small state that focuses on delivery of the things that really matter. And I want to see taxes as low as possible.”
It comes after he added his voice to calls for tax cuts on Wednesday, saying he would “like to see us do more”.
Mr Javid acknowledged the pandemic had resulted in “challenges to the public finances” but told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would like to see cuts where they’re possible.
“And I know that this is something the Government is taking very seriously and I know that it’s something that the Chancellor will look at.”
In an attempt to set his premiership back on track, the Prime Minister used a keynote speech on Thursday to reaffirm his commitment to cut taxes and set out plans to extend the right-to-buy.
Speaking in Blackpool, he said he wanted to reduce the tax burden sooner rather than later and slash the size of the state.
But he later refused to give further details of his tax-cutting plans, saying: “On what Rishi (Sunak) and I are talking about on fiscal measures, you are just going to have to contain your impatience there.”
Mr Johnson said that the Government was “strongly inclined to stimulate further growth, further productivity with tax cuts as and when they become sensible”.
He added: “The cost of housing is a big chunk of expenditure, transport is a big chunk, childcare’s a big chunk, energy is an ever-growing chunk but tax is the biggest of all and we certainly aim to get that down.”
In light of this week’s confidence vote, Mr Javid told The Times people will want to see “delivery” from the Tories.
“Most colleagues would agree, especially given what happened on Monday, that people want to see the Government boldly, radically taking on the challenges the country faces,” he said.
“People are going to want to see delivery. They want to see focus on Conservative issues.”
On Covid, he said Britain is now “properly post-pandemic”, and should be “proud” of how it tackled the crisis.
“Of course Covid is still out there,” he said.
“Covid is endemic like flu is and other viruses. Thankfully, it’s no longer a pandemic and we’ve got the tools to fight it.”