22 May 2024

People still feeling worse off than pre-pandemic, says Jeremy Hunt

22 May 2024

People still feel worse off than before the pandemic, Jeremy Hunt acknowledged, as he was also challenged about his personal wealth.

The Chancellor conceded that the majority of the public have still not seen living standards rise again, as UK inflation fell to the lowest level in nearly three years in April.

Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation slowed to 2.3% in April, down from 3.2% in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As the Chancellor hailed the latest statistics, he was asked by ITV’s Good Morning Britain if people should expect to feel better off.

He replied: “Do people feel better off now than a few years ago? No, because we have had something that you and I have never had in our lifetimes.”

Pointing to the pandemic and energy crisis, he added: “We have had two massive economic shocks in quick succession so, no, they don’t feel better than they felt a few years ago.

“The numbers show very clearly that, since 2010, over a longer period of time, living standards have improved, we have got four million more jobs, we have attracted more investment than anywhere in the world apart from China and the United States.”

He had earlier said: “We have been in power since 2019, yes, and indeed living standards have fallen even more in other countries.”

He was challenged about this claim, and reminded that the Conservative Party has been in Government since 2010.

As Mr Hunt faced broadcasters following the ONS announcement, he was also asked whether he has felt better off as a result of the cost-of-living crisis.

According to his register of financial interests, the South West Surrey MP is a buy-to-let landlord with seven flats in Southampton.

BBC Radio 4’s Today programme put this to him and asked if he has felt wealthier as inflation eased.

He replied: “It is nothing to do with me. It is to do with my responsibilities as Chancellor.”

He added: “What I know, when I became Chancellor, is we had the Office for Budget Responsibility saying we were going to have the biggest fall in living standards ever.

“We had the Bank of England saying that we were going to have the deepest, the longest recession for 100 years.”

He pointed to cost-of-living support the Government had offered, telling the BBC: “The result of those difficult decisions – and they were difficult because in the end we had to put up taxes for those decisions – but the result is living standards have gone up since Rishi Sunak became Prime Minister.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox