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Spring Statement 2022 LIVE: Rishi Sunak announces National Insurance threshold rise

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OBR says household disposable income to fall at fastest rate since 1950s

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has forecast that real household disposable income to fall at the fastest rate since comparable records began in the 1950s.

This is due to rising prices combined with the impact of tax increases.

In its assessment, the OBR said: “Taking account of both energy and non-energy pressures on household income, the policy measures announced since October offset a third of the overall fall in living standards that would otherwise have occurred in the coming 12 months. ”

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Chancellor will leave millions of children ‘without enough to live on’ says charity

The head of a children’s charity has said Rishi Sunak has failed to help children most in need by not increasing benefits.

The Child Poverty Action Group’s Sara Ogilvie said none of the measures announced during the Spring Statement “come close to bridging the gap between what the lowest-income families have and what they need.

She said it will “leave many stranded in the face of the highest prices in a generation”.

Ms Ogilvie said: “On current plans he will impose a real terms cut of £663 on families on universal credit at the worst possible time.

“That will leave millions without enough to live on. Anything less than urgent action on benefits and we’ll have more parents in debt, more hunger, more children without essentials.

“But for today, the government looks increasingly remote from real life families.”

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Return to 20 cent VAT ‘missed opportunity’ to accelerate hospitality industry

A return to 20 per cent VAT for the hospitality and tourism industry will be met with disappointment by thousands of businesses, said UKHospitality.

The leading trade body said ending the 12.5 per cent rate for hospitality would jeopardize jobs and restrict the sector’s efforts to stifle price rises for consumers.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “This is a real setback for thousands of UK hospitality businesses still suffering the devastating effects of Covid, and facing a tidal wave of rising costs.

“For many businesses, the removal of the lifeline of a lower rate of VAT might prove fatal.

“For a heavily, disproportionately taxed sector a return to 20% dashes the hopes that many businesses could begin to recoup some of the losses of the last two years.”

“In short, the longer-term measures in the Chancellor’s statement will be positive for those businesses equipped to survive the coming months.

“However, the opportunity – primarily through retaining VAT at 12.5 per cent – ​​to help more vulnerable hospitality businesses navigate their way through to the autumn has sadly been missed.”

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Retailers may not slash prices despite fuel tax reduction, says RAC

The RAC has said the 5p fuel tax reduction only takes prices back to where they were just over a week ago.

“With the cut taking effect at 6pm tonight drivers will only notice the difference at the pumps once retailers have bought new fuel in at the lower rate,” the RAC said.

“There’s also a very real risk retailers could just absorb some or all of the duty cut themselves by not lowering their prices.

“If this proves to be the case it will be said for drivers.

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“It also wouldn’t be totally unexpected based on the biggest retailers not reducing their prices late last year when the oil price fell sharply.”

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Rachel Reeves statement sounded as if pandemic ‘had never actually happened’, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak told the shadow chancellor that her statement sounded as if Covid “had never actually happened”.

Responding to Rachel Reeves, the Chancellor said: “Listening to her statement, it did sound as if Covid and the huge damage that it had done to our economy and public finances had never actually happened. It sounded as if we didn’t need to do things like furlough or support businesses and provide emergency funding to schools, to councils, the NHS.

“Because whilst her party supported all of those policies at the time, they now seem unwilling to pay for them. There is a pattern there, they’re always happy to spend taxpayers’ money, just not take care of it.”

On Labour’s calls for a windfall tax on gas and oil companies, Mr Sunak said: “We know on this side of the House, we want to encourage more investment in the North Sea.

“We want more domestic energy, we want more jobs for the UK and a windfall tax would put that off, which is why the Prime Minister will be bringing forward a comprehensive energy security strategy in the coming weeks to address that.”

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Chair of all-part environment group welcomes plans to cut VAT on energy efficiency measures

The chair of the all-party environment group has welcomed Rishi Sunak’s plan to cut VAT on energy efficiency measures.

Conservative MP Anthony Browne said: “As energy bills rise, it was welcome to see the Chancellor recognize the important role energy efficiency can play by cutting VAT on energy saving materials such as solar panels, insulation and heat pumps to 0 per cent.

“Measures like this can help reduce dependence on expensive gas and I look forward to further announcements on energy efficiency as part of the PM’s energy strategy.”

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Rishi Sunak concludes his response

His says there is a fine line between fair criticism and “political opportunism”.

Concluding, he says the British public will always be able to tell the difference in a plan which gives the biggest net cut in personal finances in 25 years.

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Rishi Sunak: Labor unwilling to pay for policies they supported

Mr Sunak added: “Labour is always willing to spend taxpayer money but never willing to take care of it.”

He also said the windfall tax, backed by Labour, would discourage investment in the UK.

Despite criticism of business rates, he said rates will be slashed in the near future and hit back at criticism for the army cuts.

Mr Sunak added: “There was one department we settled for special treatment, and that was the Ministry of Defence.”

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‘Is that it Chancellor?’ asks Energy and Utilities Alliance (USA)

Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), says: “The Chancellor has clearly not heard the outcry over rocketing energy bills faced by millions.

“He has done nothing in the Spring Statement to help the vast majority of consumers who face bills doubling this year.

“His VAT cut on solar panels and heat pumps will be welcomed by those who make them and by those who can afford to fit them, but a VAT cut on energy bills would have helped everyone.

“Frankly, consumers waiting to hear good news on their energy bills will be left asking, ‘is that it Chancellor?’”

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