Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, is delivering his spring statement at 12.30pm and – for what seems the umpteenth time in his two-year stint at the Treasury – a “fiscal event” that was originally intended to be quite modest (involving, say, the odd billion or so swishing around in the accounts) has instead been transformed by events into something much more ambitious. The media are describing this as another “mini-budget”, but these days even the mini-budgets seem to involve tax rises or giveaways which are bigger than those you used to get in “normal” budgets in the days before politics became a permanent crisis.
As my colleague Graeme Wearden reports on his business live blog, the inflation figures came out this morning and CPI (consumer price index) inflation hit 6.2% in February – the highest rate for 30 years.
Graeme will be joining more here later and together we will be covering the spring statement, and providing analysis, reaction – and a guide to all the “small print” snags not mentioned by Sunak in his speech.
This morning the Commons Treasury committee has published a report highlighting the problems facing Sunak. It is about the economic sanctions on Russia, but the Tory-dominated committee says that they will push up costs in the UK, and that poorer families are most at risk. It says:
Despite producing significant amounts of oil and gas, the UK is not protected from the economic consequences of sanctioning Russian oil and gas production. The price paid for gas in the UK is dependent on the level of demand for gas in Europe. The price paid for oil in the UK is dependent on the global price of oil. Further sanctions on Russian oil or gas will lead to higher prices which in turn will feed through to UK households and businesses.
There will be a cost to the UK economy of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. It is not possible yet to quantify that cost. But we believe that, on the information currently available, it is most definitely a cost worth bearing in order to aid Ukraine in opposing Russian aggression. However, that cost, combined with the already present pressures in the UK on the cost of living, will impact the whole country, and will be felt particularly by low income households.
As the government moves forward with its sanctions strategy, it must take further action to support UK households, in particular those on lower incomes, to manage the subsequent rise in energy and other costs.
Here is our overnight preview of the spring statement, by Larry Elliott and Heather Stewart.
And here is the agenda for the day.
Morning: Boris Johnson chairs cabinet, where Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will tell colleagues what’s in the spring statement.
9.30am: Sue Gray, second permanent secretary at the Cabinet Office, and Neil O’Brien, the levelling up minister, give evidence to the Welsh affairs committee on levelling up. (This is the Sue Gray who conducted the Partygate investigation, although she is not expected to discuss that this morning.)
12pm: Boris Johnson faces Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.30pm: Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, delivers the spring statement.
2.30pm: Richard Hughes, chair of the Office for Budget Responsibility, holds a press conference.
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