27/01/2014 10:38 GMT | Updated 27/01/2014 10:59 GMT

David Cameron Adviser Lord Young 'Sympathetic' To Cutting Top Income Tax Rate To 40p

Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street to launch Young's report into health and safety.
Tim Ireland/PA Archive
Prime Minister David Cameron and Lord Young in 10 Downing Street to launch Young's report into health and safety.

David Cameron's enterprise advisor Lord Young has expressed sympathy for calls to cut the top rate of income tax from 45p to 40p.

The peer, who was forced to resign in 2010 for saying Britons had "never had it so good" during the depths of the recession, initially refused to tell HuffPostUK whether he backed moves to raise the upper income tax rate further saying: "It's better for me if I keep my thoughts to myself."

Pressed on whether he was "sympathetic" to calls as made by London Mayor Boris Johnson for the government to create some "clear blue water" by taking income tax down from 45p, the peer said: "I think you can assume what I think" before finally answering "Yes."

The mounting debate over the top rate of income tax for those earning over £150,000 comes after Ed Balls announced over the weekend that Labour would, if re-elected, move the income tax back up to 50p from 45p.

Lord Young, who served in Margaret Thatcher's government, lavished praise on the "very entrepreneurial" coalition government for being more entrepreneurial "than we were in the 80s".

Lord Young was however more forthcoming than the Prime Minister, who under questioning at the Federation of Small Business' conference twice dodged the question and insisted it was "a matter for the chancellor in the budget". The Chancellor himself appeared at the FSB conference but did not take any questions after speaking.

Speaking earlier in the day, Labour's shadow business secretary Chuka Umunna said that his party's plans to bring back the 50p rax rate were only necessary in order to cut the deficit.

"This isn't some ideological expedition. It is a recognition that if we are elected in 2015, we're going to be inheriting an incredibly difficult financial situation," he told the FSB audience of small business owners.

Lord Young spoke to HuffPostUK at the launch of the government's new Growth Vouchers scheme, a £30 million programme which will see 20,000 small businesses receive up to £2,000 to help them get them expert support on hiring, financial management and marketing