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George Osborne 'holds face-to-face talks' with Jeremy Hunt as Sunak prepares to fix £50bn black hole

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt, leaves Downing Street, Westminster, London, following the first Cabinet meeting with Rishi Sunak as Prime Minister. Picture date: Wednesday October 26, 2022. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Jeremy Hunt has reportedly met with George Osborne ahead of setting out his plans to plug the £50bn black hole facing the country's finances. (Getty)

Jeremy Hunt has reportedly met with former chancellor George Osborne as he and Rishi Sunak prepare to try to fix a reported £50billion black hole in the country's finances.

Hunt is expected to set out spending cuts and tax rises in an autumn statement that is now due to happen on 17 November - two weeks after it was originally scheduled.

According to The Times, the Chancellor has been speaking to his predecessors on the phone, as well as holding talks with Osborne, who was behind the austerity drive in the early 2010s.

The newspaper said Hunt had spoken to all the people who had held the role before him, going right back to 2010 and including Kwasi Kwarteng - but did not reveal whether they had given the current chancellor any advice or whether he planned to follow it.

While the government has said there will not be a return to the austerity seen in the early 2010s, when Osborne and David Cameron said they needed to reduce the deficit in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Sunak has said that tough times lie ahead.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (C) poses for a photograph alongside Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt (centre right) and Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade, President of the Board of Trade and Minister for Women and Equalities Kemi Badenoch (centre left) at the first cabinet meeting under the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak in 10 Downing Street in central London on October 26, 2022. - Sunak's largely same-look cabinet holds an inaugural meeting today before he heads to the House of Commons for his first weekly
Rishi Sunak has warned of difficult economic times ahead. (Getty)

Speaking after he was announced as the incoming PM, he said: "There is no doubt we face a profound economic challenge". He vowed to unite the party and country, adding: "We will build a better more prosperous future for our children and our grandchildren".

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It has previously been suggested that the government needs to find £40bn of savings to plug the so-called fiscal black hole, but latest reports suggest that Sunak needs a surplus of £10bn to reassure markets of the UK's fiscal responsibility.

Hunt is believed to have already asked all government departments to find efficiency savings, with piling the pressure on areas including policing and education.

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The Institute For Government (IFG) has warned that the savings drive could equate to real-term cuts on a par with the early 2010s - around 2% per year.

In a report released on Wednesday, it said: "On any reasonable definition, this would be a return to ‘austerity’."

It added: "The estimated £40bn of departmental savings that Jeremy Hunt needs to find would be much more damaging to public services and harder to deliver than the coalition government’s 2010 austerity programme."