Rishi Sunak accused of not doing enough for the poorest amid surging prices
Chancellor Rishi Sunak has been accused of not doing enough to help those hardest hit by rising inflation amid warnings over a historic fall in living standards.
The Chancellor delivered his spring statement yesterday, announcing a cut of five pence a litre in fuel duty to help tackle the cost of living crisis.
But a host of organisations said Sunak had failed to understand the impact of surging energy prices and the rising cost of living for families.
The Office for Budget Responsibility said living standards are set to take the biggest hit since records began in the 1950s.
It said inflation was set to peak at 8.7 per cent at the end of this year, and combined with rising taxes, would “weigh heavily on living standards in the coming 12 months.”
Sunak said the threshold for paying National Insurance will increase by £3,000 from July, amid criticism of the 1.25 per cent increase coming in next month to fund the Health and Social Care Levy.
The basic rate of income tax will also be cut by 1p in the pound in 2024, which the Treasury says is worth £5billion for workers, savers and pensioners - and will be the first reduction in the basic rate in 16 years.
The Chancellor also set out a series of measures to help businesses boost investment, innovation, and growth – including a £1,000 increase to Employment Allowance to benefit around half a million smaller firms.
But Roz Foyer, general secretary of the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC), said the Chancellor's statement did nothing to address the wage rise workers the wage rise workers “so desperately need”.
She said: “There is no action to cap soaring energy prices, nothing to raise incomes through removing the benefit cap, reinstating the £20 universal credit uplift and uprating benefits, and nothing to raise revenue through a windfall tax on those making record profits.
“Promises of future tax cuts won’t help workers faced with huge energy hikes this Easter. The chancellor’s income tax cuts draw a line between those taxed through their wage slip and those living off unearned income.”
Peter Kelly, director of the Poverty Alliance, an independent organisation with 350 members in Scotland, said: “Government should be about compassion and justice, and making sure people are able to live as full a life as they can.
“The Chancellor said his Spring Statement today was all about security. Yet his plans show a failure to comprehend the situations being faced by households across the country, leaving them with insecure and falling incomes in the face of rising costs.
“By ignoring the tidal wave of rising living costs that is pulling so many people into poverty, the Chancellor has made clear his priorities.
“His tax-cutting agenda will generate positive headlines, but could see another 400,000 people across the UK swept into poverty. Ultimately, the Chancellor’s statement is a failure of courage, a failure of compassion, and a failure of justice.”