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UK government faces tough budget decisions, says minister

Britain's cabinet meeting at Number 10 Downing Street, London

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's government is facing significant and difficult decisions on taxes and spending in an effort to plug a budget shortfall, cabinet office minister Oliver Dowden said on Sunday, declining to comment on possible measures.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and finance minister Jeremy Hunt will set out plans to cover the shortfall of at least 40 billion pounds ($45.50 billion) with their first budget programme on Nov. 17.

Officials say all measures are being considered, such as an extension to a windfall tax on energy companies and a cut to the tax-free allowance for dividend income.

"It's right that we take difficult decisions," Dowden told Sky News. "I have to say to you and your viewers there will be, unfortunately, more significant difficult decisions to come in the autumn statement."

Dowden added that, while focusing on protecting the most vulnerable people, the government faces difficult decisions on both tax and spending.

($1 = 0.8791 pounds)

(Reporting by Elizabeth Piper; Editing by David Goodman)