UK finance minister Hunt to give autumn fiscal update on Nov. 22

By David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) -British finance minister Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday that he would deliver his next budget update to parliament on Nov. 22, in what is set to be a closely watched speech as Britain gears up for a national election expected in 2024.

Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak have so far resisted calls from members of their Conservative Party to cut taxes ahead of the election.

“As a Conservative, I want to bring taxes down as soon as we can afford to do so,” Hunt told parliament during a regular question and answer session, shortly after he announced the date for the mid-year fiscal update, known as the Autumn Statement.

The last annual budget was on March 15. As part of the update, there will be new growth and inflation forecasts from Britain’s Office for Budget Responsibility and revisions to the current financial year’s government bond issuance plans.

Hunt has welcomed a major data revision from Britain’s Office for National Statistics last week which showed the country’s economy regained its pre-pandemic size in late 2021, more than a year and a half sooner than previously thought.

Before that, Britain had appeared a significant laggard in its recovery compared with other big economies.

Hunt also said Britain was on track to meet Sunak’s goal to halve inflation from the double-digit rate seen late last year. At 6.8%, British inflation remains the highest of any major economy.

“The Bank of England themselves have said that there were problems with their inflation forecasting. They are learning the lessons from that and we must support them every step of the way as they bring down inflation,” he said.

Hunt has used concerns about inflation as a reason to push back against both tax cuts and public-sector trade unions’ demands for pay rises in line with the increased cost of living.

(Reporting by David Milliken and Alistair SmoutWriting by William Schomberg and Sachin Ravikumar; editing by William James)