The UK’s economic outlook will be “challenging” for the next two years, Jeremy Hunt says.
The chancellor presented his autumn statement to parliament on Thursday, littered with stealth taxes and curbs on government spending amounting to £55bn in an attempt to plug the black hole in public finances.
But the independent Office for Budget Responsibility warned the disposable incomes of UK households would fall by 7.1% over the next two years – the lowest level since records began in 1956/7, and taking incomes down to 2013 levels.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Hunt said it was “a difficult time for everyone” but tax hikes and spending cuts are needed to get the economy “on an even keel”.
“Over the next two years it is going to be challenging,” he said.
Politics live: Tax burden reaches highest level since WWII
As a result of the Mr Hunt’s announcements, the tax burden in the UK will also now be at its highest since the Second World War, and there are stark warnings about increased bills and higher unemployment as the recession takes hold – as well as predictions the economy will still shrink 1.4% in 2023.
But most of the difficult decisions on spending have been postponed until after the next general election, due in 2024.
Treasury analysis suggests around 55% of households will be worse off as a result of the measures.
Labour has blamed “12 weeks of Conservative chaos” and “12 years of Conservative economic failure” for the bleak outlook.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves accused the government of forcing the UK economy into a “doom loop where low growth leads to higher taxes, lower investments and squeezed wages, with the running down of public services”.