Murphy warns against Tory ‘return to austerity’ after tax U-turn

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There should be no return to austerity measures by the government, Stormont’s finance minister, Conor Murphy, has warned.

Mr Murphy was reacting after Chancellor Quasi Quarteng’s decision to drop plans to eliminate the top rate of income tax for the highest earners.

“It is clear that the abolition of the 45p tax rate has become a distraction”, Mr Quarteng said, adding “we get it, and we have heard”.

His U-turn came after several senior Tory lawmakers opposed the plan, which was announced in the mini-budget just 10 days earlier.

An entirely different approach is needed if the Chancellor is to mitigate the economic turmoil generated by his mini-budget.

Conor Murphy

The mini-budget was sharply criticized by Sinn Féin Minister Murphy when it was given, accusing the chancellor of “gambling” with public finances.

Responding to the chancellor’s move on Monday, Mr Murphy said: “The decision to reverse this tax break for the super-rich is the right thing to do.

“I, along with my counterparts in Scotland and Wales, are calling for an immediate reversal of this uncertain decision.

“However, if the Chancellor is to mitigate the economic turmoil created by his mini-budget, an entirely different approach is needed.

“With no credible plan to fund its program of tax cuts, which largely benefit the well, there is a fear that there will be a return to austerity measures.

“It will only increase the hardship facing people and small businesses.”

Mr Murphy said: “The Government of Westminster should instead increase Social Security benefits to support the low-income families they face this winter.

“Public services are under tremendous pressure due to the reduction in available funds from rising prices, energy costs and the effects of inflation.

“Additional funds should be provided to enable continuous delivery of public services and fair wage growth for public sector workers.

“The mini budget is already set to raise mortgage costs for thousands of homeowners.

“An entirely different approach must be taken by the British government if people are to keep their homes warm and if businesses are to keep their lights on.”

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