From energy bill support to wage increases: this is what the new budget means for you

Written by Amy Beecham

Everything we learned from chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement budget announcement.

It goes without saying that it has been a turbulent few months for the UK economy. With dramatic leadership changes, a disastrous mini-budget and record inflation, it’s made an already difficult time for millions across the country even harder.

Announcing the latest budget plan as part of the autumn statement today, chancellor Jeremy Hunt vowed that his plan will help rebuild the economy and reduce debt.

In his opening speech, Hunt told MPs that “our priorities are stability, growth and public services”. “We also want to protect the vulnerable,” he added, saying: “To be British is to be compassionate and this is a compassionate government.”

Hunt stated that amid “unprecedented global headwinds, families, pensioners, businesses, teachers, nurses and many others are worried about the future.

“So today we deliver a plan to tackle the cost of living crisis and rebuild our economy,” he said. However, he also officially admitted that the country is in a recession and forecasters have predicted the economy will shrink by 1.4% next year, meaning that things will get worse before they improve.

“British families make sacrifices every day to live within their means, and so to must their government, because the United Kingdom will always pay its way,” he told the Commons.

How did the autumn statement tackle the cost of living crisis? 

The National Living Wage will be increased

In the chancellor’s announcement, he shared that the National Living Wage would rise by 9.7% from April to an hourly rate of £10.42, an annual pay rise worth over £1,600 to a full-time worker.

This marks an increase from April 2022, where it rose by59p from £8.91 an hour to £9.50 an hour for workers over the age of 23 who are in the minimum wage bracket. 

Energy bill help has been extended – but there’s a catch

Hunt was clear that that the government would maintain plans to spend £55 billion on the energy support package to assist struggling households and businesses.

To help support increased fuel and energy prices, aid for households was extended beyond April for a further year through the energy price guarantee. However, he also announced that the cap would rise, taking the average annual bill to £3,000 from the current £2,500.

The most vulnerable groups will receive additional cost of living payments

Additional cost of living payments of £900 were promised to households on means-tested benefits next year, alongside £300 to pensioner households and £150 for individuals on disability benefit.

An additional £1 billion of funding was also announced to enable a further 12-month extension to the Household Support Fund, which is distributed by councils in England to directly help those who needed it most. 

Social rent has also been capped

Hunt confirmed that the UK government would cap social rent increases at 7% next year, a move he said would save the average tenant in the sector £200. The cap would “support people most exposed to high inflation”, he explained, referencing the roughly 4 million families who live in the social rented sector.

Images: Getty

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