Jeremy Hunt has called the upcoming autumn statement one of the “biggest responsibilities” of his political career, amid intense speculation about what his budget will contain.
Writing in his local paper, the Chancellor offered little clue of what measures he was planning but warned his constituents of the need to “put our national finances back on an even keel”.
Tax rises and tough spending cuts are expected in the budget, which will come as Rishi Sunak and his Chancellor attempt to restore confidence in the UK economy after Liz Truss’s administration.
The South West Surrey MP apologised to readers of the Farnham Herald for the break in his weekly column, but assured them he had been “heads down, including over Saturday and Sunday, preparing the Autumn Statement with the prime minister”.
“It is an extremely difficult challenge because after Covid, many people have got used to the state being able to step in with limitless resources to fix big problems.
“But in the end, as every family and business knows, you have to find a way to pay for things,” he wrote.
Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt are considering imposing up to £60 billion in tax rises and spending cuts in the autumn budget on November 17, in what will prove a major test for the new Tory administration.
Downing Street is facing fresh calls not to axe the scheduled social care cap as a way of avoiding deeper cuts elsewhere.
The Prime Minister was reviewing whether to delay the plans by two years to 2025, Whitehall officials confirmed on Thursday, amid fears it could be put off indefinitely.
The potential move has alarmed charities, with The Alzheimer’s Society warning ministers they “must not roll back on the care cap”, which it described as a “crucial first step to tackle catastrophic care costs”.
Mr Hunt was tight-lipped in his column about any of the rumours and reports about his budget measures, but told readers: “These are tough times for people everywhere.
“But we are a resilient, tough and resourceful country and have seen off even greater challenges many times before.”
He also addressed the Bank of England’s decision to hike interest rates from 2.25% to 3%, in its biggest single rise for 33 years.
“It is, of course, very challenging that base rates have just increased again but it is vitally important the Bank of England continues to do its job to restore the stability that comes with low inflation,” Mr Hunt said.
The Chancellor, twice defeated in Tory leadership contests, was elevated to one of the most powerful jobs in the country in the dying days of Ms Truss’s premiership before being kept on by Mr Sunak.
Signing off his column, he turned his attention to the “brilliant” local businesses in his locality.
“Delivering the Autumn Statement will be perhaps one of the biggest responsibilities I have undertaken in public life and I will be thinking hard how to help every single one of them,” he said.