Hunt: we may see inflation blip in September

The Chancellor insisted inflation is ‘coming down’.

Ben Hatton
Sunday 03 September 2023 10:52 BST
Jeremy Hunt said that inflation is coming down but there may be a ‘blip’ in September (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA)
Jeremy Hunt said that inflation is coming down but there may be a ‘blip’ in September (Jeff Overs/BBC/PA) (PA Media)

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said there may be a “blip” in inflation in September.

The concession from the Chancellor comes despite his insistence that the Government’s plan to reduce inflation is working.

Inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) has eased back to 6.8% from a recent eye-watering peak of 11.1% last October, but is still far from the Bank of England’s 2% target.

August’s inflation figures are expected to be published in September.

If we are going to put money in people's pockets quickly, the fastest thing I can do is to deliver the Prime Minister's pledge to halve inflation

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt

Mr told BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “The plan is working, inflation is coming down.”

But put to him that inflation could have risen in August, Mr Hunt said: “I do think we may see a blip in inflation in September.

“But after that the Bank of England is saying it will fall down to around 5%.

“And you know, if we are going to put money in people’s pockets quickly, the fastest thing I can do is to deliver the Prime Minister’s pledge to halve inflation, because that puts not 1p in the pound, which might be a tax cut, but 5p in the pound in people’s pockets that they wouldn’t have had if inflation stays high.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to halve inflation this year, and would need to see the figure hit about 5.3% to meet his pledge.

Asked about the prospect of cutting taxes when he delivers his autumn statement later this year, he said there is “nothing” he wants more than to bring the “tax burden” down, saying one way to do so is to grow the economy, saying “good progress” is being made on that.

He said the second way to do so is to “spend taxpayers’ money more efficiently”.

Mr Hunt said he has written to Secretaries of State on Sunday to ask about how much time public servants are spending on “unnecessary admin”.

He said: “What we need to do now is to restart the public service reform agenda.

“It’s not about asking to work harder, they work very, very hard. But it’s about using money more efficiently.”

But speaking to Sky News, he said the reform agenda would not involve “more cuts.”

Mr Hunt also denied that he would have made different decisions in his role as Chancellor had he known the UK economy had bounced back from the pandemic faster than expected.

The Office for National Statistics has revised its estimate for the UK’s post-pandemic growth, saying the economy was larger in 2021 than in 2019.

Asked on Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme whether he would have changed course had he known, Mr Hunt said: “No, because the decisions we took were primarily because we had to bring inflation down which peaked at over 11%.

“A series of incredibly difficult decisions that Rishi Sunak and I took because we knew that until you get inflation down you can’t end the misery for families who see the cost of their weekly shop going up, the cost of filling up their tank of petrol… That was an absolute priority for us,” he said.

Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesperson Sarah Olney said: “It is an insult to the British people that the Chancellor describes people’s weekly food shops and bills going up as just a ‘blip’.

“The Conservatives simply don’t get it and have completely failed to get a grip of spiralling bills.”

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