Unveiling his Spring Statement ‘mini budget’ to the House of Commons, the Conservative spending chief confirmed a widely predicted 5p per litre cut in fuel duty due to come into effect from 6pm on Wednesday and last until March next year.
Plans to reduce income tax from 20 pence in the pound to 19, by 2024, were among the surprise policies announced, while the threshold for paying National Insurance is also set to increase by £3,000 from July.
But the moves have prompted criticism that the government is not doing enough to address an escalating cost of living crisis.
“We’re facing the highest tax burden in 70 years,” said South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck.
“He [Rishi Sunak] is good on the rhetoric, but look at the substance and it’s not what he is saying - people are going to have the biggest hit to incomes on record.
“There’s not going to be enough for people to survive on and the measures he did introduce on fuel duty and insulation and solar panels, if you don’t have a car or you can’t afford it, it isn’t helpful.”
Following the statement, Sunak claimed the new measures announced would see 70% of workers paying less in National Insurance contributions.
But the Institute for Fiscal Studies, a think tank, has warned the Chancellor has failed to help the “very poorest”, predicting the biggest hit to living standards since the 1950s.
“We are living through the worst cost of living crisis that we have seen in generations and the Chancellor’s announcements today will do absolutely nothing to alleviate this pressure away from people who I represent,” said Jarrow MP Kate Osborne.
“The Chancellor started his statement by blaming the crisis in Ukraine for the rise in the cost of living, even though gas, electricity, water, fuel, and taxes were all dramatically rising before the crisis in Ukraine began.
"There was no mention of any assistance for those claiming benefits or those pensioners living in poverty – the people who need help the most.”
She added: “Today’s statement was an insult to people across the UK who are desperate for help during these extremely difficult times.”