Martin Lewis calls for immediate increase in benefits after Jeremy Hunt rips up mini-Budget

Personal finance guru calls on government to hike benefits in line with latest inflation figures

Lamiat Sabin
Monday 17 October 2022 20:01 BST
Martin Lewis calls for urgent benefits increase after Hunt rips up mini-Budget

Martin Lewis has called on the government to increase benefits in line with inflation after new chancellor Jeremy Hunt scrapped most of the government’s mini-Budget.

The personal finance guru and founder of MoneySavingExpert said that there are “a lot of very desperate people” who “will need reassurance” that they will be able to make ends meet during these tumultuous times.

It comes after Mr Hunt announced his new measures days into his job as chancellor after Liz Truss sacked his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng after their financial plans tanked the pound and spooked the markets.

In a bid to steady the markets, Mr Hunt made an emergency statement which detailed that he will keep a U-turn that Mr Kwarteng made on a plan to axe the 45p tax rate for the highest earners.

In addition, Mr Hunt scrapped a planned 1 per cent cut in the basic rate of income tax, and cut short the amount of support the government would provide to help most households pay their energy bills after prices had soared to record levels.

He told the Commons that his “credible, fully-costed” plan will be announced on 31 October.

Markets were buoyed by Jeremy Hunt’s emergency statement

On BBC’s Politics Live, Mr Lewis was asked what was “one thing more [he] wanted to hear” from Mr Hunt in his economic plan.

Mr Lewis replied that one of the two things he wanted to know was whether the government was going to release the September inflation figures on Wednesday.

He said: “Those are normally the figures that pensions and benefits are uprated on.

“I think they need to get rid of this debate and say right now that benefits will be uprated with inflation, not with average earnings, when we get those figures on Wednesday.

“I think there are a lot of very desperate people who are feeling vulnerable because of the cost of living crisis, and they need to be given some reassurance too, as well as the markets.”

Mr Lewis also called on the government to offer a support package that will continue to help households with energy bills after Mr Hunt announced that the energy price guarantee will only remain in place until April next year.

Later, when questioned in the Commons over his statement, Mr Hunt had failed to guarantee benefits will increase in line with inflation – telling MPs he is not making “firm commitments” on any individual elements of tax and spending.

Labour’s former shadow chancellor John McDonnell asked him: “The backdrop to today’s statement isn’t just the chaos of the last fortnight, it is also a report of three weeks ago that demonstrated as a result of austerity, there has been over 300,000 excess deaths.

“Can I ask him in his preparations for 31 October that he recognises that unless he increases benefits by at least the rate of inflation, there will be more excess deaths and suffering.”

Mr Hunt replied: “He will know because I’ve said it many times today that I’m not making firm commitments on any individual elements of tax and spending.

“But I hope he is reassured that I have been very clear about the values through which we will take those decisions.”

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