Jeremy Hunt has finally revealed he has not paid a tax fine to HMRC after refusing three times.
The chancellor declined to say whether he has ever paid a penalty to the taxman at a speech in London this morning.
However Mr Hunt later said he was willing to disclose that he has never paid a HMRC fine in a BBC interview.
His answer came upon the third time of asking, having declined to answer twice when the question was put to him during a question-and-answer session in the aftermath of his London Bloomberg speech.
Asked by BBC News to clarify whether he had ever paid a HMRC penalty, Mr Hunt said: “I don’t normally comment about my own tax records.
“But, I am chancellor, so, for the record: I haven’t paid a HMRC fine.”
It comes as Conservative Party chairman Nadhim Zahawi faces an ethics probe after it emerged he finalised a tax settlement with HMRC, which included a penalty, while serving as chancellor
Asked at his speech this morning whether he had ever paid a fine to HM Revenue and Customs, he said: “I’m not going to talk about my personal tax affairs, but I don’t think there’s anything you’d find interesting to write about if I can put it that way.”
The chancellor was speaking at an event hosted by Bloomberg.
His refusal comes as former chancellor Nadhim Zahawai is under scrutiny for paying a million pound fine to settle a tax dispute with HMRC.
He is being investigated by the prime minister’s ethics adviser over whether he broke the ministerial code over the dispute.
In his speech, Jeremy Hunt has told people who left work during the pandemic and have not returned that “Britain needs you”.
“If companies can’t employ the staff they need, they can’t grow,” he said at an event hosted by Bloomberg.
He said that one fifth of working age adults are economically inactive. Around five million people do not want to work, he added.
“It’s time for a fundamental programme of reforms to support people with long-term conditions or mental illness to overcome the barriers and prejudices that prevent them from working.
“We will never harness the full potential of our country unless we unlock it for each and every one of our citizens.”
He added: “So to those who retired early after the pandemic, or haven’t found the right role after furlough, I say Britain needs you. And we will look at the conditions necessary to make work worth your while.”
Mr Hunt also announced government will invest in “mini-Canary Wharfs” across the country to help reverse the economic migration from other parts of the country to the south east of England, the chancellor said.
Mr Hunt said it was “economically damaging” that the country’s second cities were not the “economic powerhouses” that they are in other countries, arguing UK GDP could be 5 per cent higher if they were producing more growth.
Announcing measures designed to level-up, the chancellor added: “This year we will announce investment zones, mini-Canary Wharfs, supporting each one of our growth industries, each one focused in high-potential but underperforming areas in line with our mission to level-up.
“They will be focused on our research strengths, executed in partnership with local government, with advantageous fiscal treatment to attract new investment.
“And we’ll shortly start a process to identify exactly where they will go.”
More to come…