Government spending plans delayed until 17 November

No.10 said it was important that teams had enough time to "reach the right decisions" after Tuesday's major cabinet reshuffle
The budget has been delayed. Photo: Adobe Stock

By John Johnston

26 Oct 2022

Downing Street has confirmed that chancellor Jeremy Hunt will delay an announcement of the government's spending plans that was due on 31 October until 17 November.

Following the first cabinet meeting under new Prime Minsiter Rishi Sunak, it was announced that Hunt would now deliver a beefed-up Autumn Statement in mid-November alongside the publication of independent economic forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. 

Hunt, who retained his top cabinet job following Rishi Sunak's major reshuffle, had initially planned to present his medium-term fiscal plan on 31 October following the decision to scrap the majority of Liz Truss's disastrous 'mini-budget'.

But in a Treasury statement, it was confirmed that Sunak and Hunt had decided to delay the announcement following the election of the new prime minister. Hunt has discussed the delay with the Bank of England, and is believed to have their support. 

Downing Street said it was important that teams had enough time to "reach the right decisions" after a major cabinet reshuffle on Tuesday meant that many departments are now being led by new secretaries of state. 

"The Autumn Statement will set out how we will put public finances on a sustainable footing and get debt falling in the medium term and will be accompanied by a full forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility," a Downing Street spokesperson said. 

Speaking to broadcasters following the announcement, Hunt said: "My number one priority is economic stability and restoring confidence that the United Kingdom is a country that pays its way.

"For that reason, the medium term fiscal plan is extremely important. I want to confirm that it will demonstrate debt falling over the medium term, which is very important for people to understand.

He added: "It’s also extremely important that that statement is based on the most accurate possible economic forecasts and forecasts of public finances."

Hunt confirmed he had also discussed the decision with Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey, who he claimed "understands the reason" for the delay.

Earlier on Wednesday, foreign secretary James Cleverly said it was possible that Sunak's appointment as PM could cause a delay to the fiscal plans.

"The prime minister’s only just stepped in," he said.

"That date was set by the previous prime minister in the anticipation that she would be able to work throughout this period of time on that with the chancellor. Obviously things have changed."

Hunt is expected to make cuts to public spending following the new Prime Minister's warning that "difficult decisions" would have to be made as the UK faces a "profound economic crisis".

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