Spring Statement: Rishi Sunak urged to help families facing rising cost of living
The UK Government has been urged to do more to tackle the cost of living crisis as Rishi Sunak prepares to deliver the Spring Statement on Wednesday afternoon.
Economic security is expected to feature highly in the statement as a response to events in eastern Europe.
The chancellor will pledge to “stand by” families.
Sunak is expected to say: “We will confront this challenge to our values not just in the arms and resources we send to Ukraine but in strengthening our economy here at home.
“So when I talk about security, yes – I mean responding to the war in Ukraine. But I also mean the security of a faster growing economy, the security of more resilient public finances, and security for working families as we help with the cost of living.”
He will also set out plans to create a “culture of enterprise” to encourage the private sector to provide more training, as well as support innovation.
Labour is calling on the government to cut VAT on energy bills, cancel the planned increase to National Insurance, reverse cuts to Universal Credit and introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies which have seen their profits soar in the last two years.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The stakes could not be higher for this year’s Spring Statement, as households up and down the country worry about how they will pay their bills and put food on the table.
“In the face of the worst cost of living crisis in decades, we are in desperate need of real leadership and ambition from of our governments – but so far the Tories and the SNP have both fallen badly short.”
The SNP has urged the government to “bring forward a major package of support" to better support families, including by increasing social security payments and the living wage.
Finance secretary Kate Forbes said: "This is not a time to be ducking the considerable challenges we face, and I expect the chancellor to use the Spring Statement to outline significant actions to support households and businesses, considering that most of the relevant powers are reserved to the UK Government."
Meanwhile, the Scottish Trades Union Congress has backed a windfall tax and called for an “urgent package of support” to help families who are struggling.
In a letter to the chancellor on Tuesday, general secretary Roz Foyer warned that “inaction embeds inequality” and a windfall tax would see “those with the broadest shoulders carry the cost” of the pandemic.
Poverty campaigners have called for an end to the benefit cap, a policy which they say “knowingly and purposefully” locks families into poverty.
Director of the Poverty Alliance, Peter Kelly, said: “It’s a failed policy that should have no place in our society. It cuts the lifeline that people need and are entitled to, just at a time when more and more households are being caught up in a rising tide of living costs. The public know that this is a policy that has to go; the chancellor should listen to them, and have the compassion and courage to scrap the cap now.”