Good morning. Rishi Sunak, the chancellor, will make his spring statement at 12.30 and – for what appears to be the most tumultuous time of his two-year stay in the Ministry of Finance – a “tax event” that was originally intended to be quite modest (involving, for example, the odd billion or so, whizzing around in the accounts) has instead been transformed by events into something much more ambitious. The media describes this as yet another “mini-budget”, but these days even mini-budgets seem to involve tax increases or giveaways that are larger than those used to get in “normal” budgets in the days before politics became a permanent crisis.
Like my colleague Graeme values reports on his business live blog, inflation figures came out this morning, and CPI (consumer price index) inflation reached 6.2% in February – the highest rate in 30 years.
Graeme will join more here later, and together we will cover this spring’s statement and provide analyzes, reactions – and a guide to all the “lowercase” snags not mentioned by Sunak in his speech.
This morning Joint Finance Committee has released a report highlighting the issues Sunak is facing. It is about the economic sanctions against Russia, but the Tory-dominated committee says they will push costs up in the UK and that poorer families are most at risk. It says:
Despite producing significant amounts of oil and gas, Britain is not protected from the economic consequences of sanctioning Russian oil and gas production. The price of gas in the UK depends on the demand for gas in Europe. The price paid for oil in the UK depends on the global oil price. Additional sanctions against Russian oil or gas will lead to higher prices, which in turn will hit British households and businesses.
There will be a cost to the British economy of the economic sanctions imposed on Russia. It is not yet possible to quantify that cost. But we believe that, given the information currently available, it is definitely a cost worth bearing to help Ukraine resist Russian aggression. However, these costs, combined with the already existing pressure in the UK on the cost of living, will affect the whole country and will be particularly felt by low-income households.
As the government moves forward with its sanctions strategy, it must take further steps to support British households, especially those with lower incomes, to deal with 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’s the agenda for the day.
Morning: Boris Johnson is sitting in the cabinet, where Chancellor Rishi Sunak will tell colleagues what the spring statement says.
9.30: Sue Gray, Second Permanent Secretary to the Cabinet Office, and Neil O’Brien, Minister for Level Increases, testify before the Welsh Committee on Level Increases. (This is Sue Gray, who conducted the Partygate survey, though she is not expected to discuss it this morning.)
12:00: Boris Johnson meets Keir Starmer at PMQs.
12.30: Chancellor Rishi Sunak makes the spring statement.
14.30: Richard Hughes, President of the Office of Budgetary Responsibility, is holding a press conference.
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