Mini-budget: Cabinet minister urges people to remain ‘calm’ amid economic turmoil

Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland has told people to ‘remain calm’ (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland has told people to ‘remain calm’ (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

A UK cabinet minister has urged people to remain “calm” amid the turmoil sparked by the Government’s mini-budget announcement.

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s economic policies have attracted fierce criticism, most notably from the International Monetary Fund, and the Bank of England have had to intervene to steady a part of the financial markets.

However, Welsh Secretary Robert Buckland stood by Mr Kwarteng’s plans during an interview with ITV Wales on Wednesday.

He told the Wales At Six programme that aspects of the budget were “vital for the lives of every business and indeed every family”.

Questioned over the pound’s fall in value, food cost inflation and soaring interest rates which have affected the housing market, Mr Buckland said: “I do think it’s very important that we remain very steady and calm through this period.

“The issue for me is how we grow our economy in order to pay for increased public services.

“The only way that we’re going to long term sustain our important public services in Wales and elsewhere is to grow our economy, and the Government is trying to make sure that as many obstacles are removed in order to allow for that higher growth to take place.

“That will be good for all of the billions at risk.”

He added: “I think the mini budget has actually got a huge amount of detail in there that is vital for the lives of every business and indeed every family in Wales.

“The energy announcements that we made just before the budget will have a direct impact upon mitigating some of the alarming rises in energy prices that we are all too painfully aware of.”

The minister said changes to national insurance would “benefit many lower paid workers” and that other tax measures would be “important for small businesses”.

And he said the budget is a “wide range of initiatives that do reach into the lives of ordinary people”.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies said on Friday that the Chancellor’s package would risk rising inflation and higher interest rates, with director Paul Johnson saying: “Mr Kwarteng is not just gambling on a new strategy, he is betting the house.”

Since then sterling has tumbled and the Bank of England has had to buy £65 billion worth of government bonds – known as gilts – after the Government’s economic policies sparked a sell-off in the market that could harm pension pots.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for the recall of Parliament to address the financial crisis, and accused the Tories of being the party of “fiscal irresponsibility”.

But Mr Buckland told presenter Jonathan Hill that now was the time for the Conservatives to be “bold”.

“What we’re having to do now with an unprecedented energy crisis is to take that short-term action that will of course have to be repaid over the long term, but coupled with those reforms that will make a long-term difference to the economy,” he said.

“That’s what I think people would expect us to do.

“I think now is not the time for us to be timid when it comes to our intervention into the energy market.

“It’s an important moment to be bold, and that’s what we’re doing.”