Spring Statement, March 2022
Amid rising pressure to bring in significant relief measures to combat the current international emergency, Chancellor Rishi Sunak implied ahead of time that he could only do so much.
Speaking at the weekend, he acknowledged concerns about price hikes and inflation, vowing to stand by people in the same way he’s “done over the past couple of years”.
But, in the same breath, the Chancellor warned that the Government couldn’t “completely protect people against some of the difficult times ahead”
After all, this year’s Spring Statement was only ever intended to be an economic update, released alongside the new Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecast.
Now, against the backdrop of the most turbulent period in recent European history, a soaring cost of living crisis with inflation hitting a 30 year high, and on the second anniversary of the UK’s first lockdown, we’ve received slightly more than a brief update.
To begin with, Sunak emphasised that the “measures taken to sanction Putin’s regime are not cost-free for those of us at home” and that the OBR had reported “unusually high levels of uncertainty” about the future of the UK’s economy.
He went on to announce three immediate measures designed to “help people right now”, including cutting fuel duty, scrapping VAT on energy-efficient home improvements, and doubling the household support fund.
“Is that it?” cried one vocal member of Parliament during the speech. But there was more.
While hopes of a significant rescue package – like we saw during the height of Covid – may have been somewhat dashed, the Chancellor did have a few more announcements up his sleeve.
These included raising the National Insurance contributions (NICs) threshold, increasing the employment allowance, and, perhaps most notably, cutting the basic rate of income tax to 19% from 2024. But will it be enough to help households and businesses across the UK meet their skyrocketing costs?
You can read the full report, here.