The plea comes ahead of the Chancellor’s spending review, which is set to be unveiled later today (25 November). His forecasts are expected to show the lowest growth for 300 years, alongside a long-term permanent gap of around £40bn to £50bn between money raised in taxes and money spent.
MPs told Sky that they are expecting Sunak to call for further tax raises in a bid to “close the gap”, though specific rates are not expected to be raised today.
Some MPs have argued that there is “no danger of debt becoming unaffordable”, however.
Jake Berry, founder of the Northern Research Group, told Sky: “The chancellor has been clear that it is the mission of all Conservative governments to balance the books and I’m sure he will restate that.
“It’s quite difficult, I think, to see tax rises coming very quickly. Nobody wants to snuff out this recovery. My personal view is that they are probably going to be post-2024.”
He added: “The reason he can afford to take that approach is that even though we are one of the most indebted countries, we can borrow money cheaply.
“The global line for what is an acceptable earning to debt ratio has shifted for all nations which have doubled down and spent money to beat this crisis. There is a problem, there is a day when we all have to pay, I don’t think it’s coming in the very near term.”
Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation, also noted that tax rises should “probably” need to be delayed until 2023 or 2024 due to the fact “the recovery was perilous”.
Bell said: “Rishi Sunak’s tone about public finances is different to Boris Johnson’s – he’s much more likely to make the point that tough times are to come and there are some tax rises, and difficult choices on spending will be needed in the years ahead.
“Actually if we look at the substance of what we actually decide to do, the chancellor doesn’t want to be accused of not spending enough. That is generally what has happened. Really he’s not going to be setting out big cuts to public spending. Rishi Sunak does not want to be George Osborne.”
He added: “If you look at the areas he’s focusing on at the moment like on the reduction of aid, and the yet undefined freeze of public sector pay, they aren’t the ones where you see lasting political difficulty.
“So tonally he’s tough on the public finances but actually he’s spent huge amounts of money next year and I’d expect that in the spending review.”