Jeremy Hunt has warned that the UK “can no longer rely on mass migration” to fill job vacancies as he prepares to make it easier for the over 50s to return to work in his Budget this week. But the Chancellor is under pressure from members of his own party like Lord Hammond to ignore Tory backbenchers and bring in migrants to fill cheap labour jobs.
Speaking on Sophie Ridge on Sky News, the Chancellor said that one of his main tasks will be to make it easier for people to return to work.
There has been a concern that since lockdown, many people in their 50s and 60s gave up on work and retired.
Meanwhile, retired doctors have found that they are penalised through pension rules in the tax system if they want to consider returning to work.
But the Chancellor also made it clear that previous government using mass migration to fill job vacancies and boost the economy is no longer politically possible because of Brexit.
He said: “I am a Conservative who believes in the virtue of work.
He went on: “Brexit means that our choice is not to fill every vacancy with mass migration.”
But later in the program one of his predecessors Lord Hammond, who rebelled against Boris Johnson on Brexit, said that if he were in Mr Hunt’s position he would push for opening the doors to migrants.
He said: “If I was unconstrained I would relax the immigration rules in a very specific way to allow low-skilled workers in for three years with no right to stay or right of settlement.”
Later he added that Mr Hunt and Prime Minister Rishi Sunak needed to ignore “Tory backbench groups who are against house building, trading withour closest partners like the EU or immigration.”
On Laura Kuenssberg’s morning show on the BBC former Levelling Up Secretary Simon Clarke urged Mr Hunt to start cutting taxes.
Mr Clarke is part of former Prime Minister Liz Truss’s Conservatvies for Growth group and was part of her government.
He said: “I think reducing our corporation tax rather than raising it is what is required.
“We have literally seen Astrazenica coose Ireland over us because they have a lower corporation tax rate.
“Lower taxes stimulate growth it’s an undeniable fact.”
But Mr Hunt said: “I agree with Simon I want Britain to be a low tax economy.”
He also pointed out that for the first time in UK history someone earning £1,000 a month would not pay income tax or national insurance.
But he warned that the economy needed “careful stewardship” after spending £400 billion on the covid lockdown to bale out countries.
The Chancellor also hinted that he would be investing money in childcare support to get people back to work.
Labour’s Rachel Reeve said that her party would copy Joe Biden‘s massive bail out of the US government which has cost more than £1 trillion.
She claimed that Britain is “in the chaning room” for new industries while other countries are getting ahead in new industries such as electric cars.
Meanwhile, a former adviser to ex-Labour leader Ed Miliband has praised Mr Hunt’s changes for childcare.
Torstern Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation, said: “Jeremy Hunt has announced a much bigger than many expected set of policy changes for his ‘back to work’ focused Budget. #
“Will have real impacts on people’s lives so take a break from football/immigration.”
“The big childcare idea is paying childcare costs upfront in Universal Credit rather than people having to claim it back.
“That is a big deal and very welcome – removing a cash flow barrier to some entering work.”
He added: “Increasing the maximum childcare support you can get per month is a less big deal but will help a small number of families, especially in London.”