Spring Statement latest: Sunak under pressure to ease cost of living crisis

Rishi Sunak is under pressure to use today’s financial statement to deliver relief for hard-pressed households amid the biggest “cost of living crisis” for decades.

Against the backdrop of a 1970s-style energy crunch, the chancellor is expected to help households facing soaring energy, petrol and food bills as well as rising taxes.

Sunak is widely expected to cut fuel duty. Some MPs hope that he will cut taxes or reduce the impact of the planned 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance contributions, designed to raise £12bn for the NHS and social care.

Yet officials have played down the idea that the chancellor could use today’s statement to provide a fresh support package for household energy bills.

In February, Sunak announced a £9bn package to help people deal with spiraling bills, including a £200 loan to every household and a further £150 rebate for those in council tax bands A to D.

That was designed to help address a jump in the “energy cap” — which governs most domestic fuel bills — from £1,277 to £1,971 from April.

Since then, however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has caused another jump in wholesale gas prices which could — experts believe — propel annual bills to more than £3,000 by the year-end.

However, officials have briefed in recent weeks that it would be premature to announce specific measures to address the next increase in the energy cap when it will not be announced by energy regulator Ofgem in August — coming into effect in October.

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