MATT WESTERN MP COLUMN: Chancellor’s help in financial crisis is virtually no help at all

This week could be a defining week for the government, as well as the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, as he delivered his Spring Statement, writes Matt Western.

I’m not exactly an authority on economics, but the Money Saving Expert, Martin Lewis, certainly is.

He says that UK households are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis... worse than the 2008 financial crash and even the pandemic.

He also says he has completely run out of ways to help people and the situation now requires an immediate political intervention.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement on March 23
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement on March 23
Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered his Spring Statement on March 23

Well, unfortunately we didn’t get one from the chancellor.

On the day inflation was confirmed as hitting 6.2% (I have long said it could reach more than 8%) the chancellor offered us a plaster to cover a gaping wound. Families, particularly the most disadvantaged, are suffering.

We have seen the largest fall in real households’ disposable incomes per person (2.2%) since Office for National Statistics (ONS) records began in the 1950s, according to the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR).

A fuel duty cut of 5p per litre is barely a drop in the ocean while the VAT cut equates to about £45 million.

It feels like records for the highest petrol prices are broken almost weekly these days.

The income tax hike and the adjustment to the National Insurance threshold do hardly anything to bring household bills down.

As Leamington businesses close because they can’t contend with the rise of energy bills, our chancellor has no plans to support them.

As my Labour colleagues and I have been saying for the past few months, we need a windfall tax on energy companies’ profits to save families more than £600; we need the National Insurance rise to be scrapped; and we need more taxes on the wealthiest people, not on workers.

Meanwhile, sometimes lightning does strike twice! Getting selected for PMQs is extremely rare.

For those who don’t know, every MP enters the weekly ballot, so the odds are on being selected only once a year.

At last week’s PMQs, as an homage to Mrs Merton – the late, great Caroline Aherne’s character – I asked his deputy PM Dominic Raab what it was that first attracted the prime minister to so many billionaire Russian oligarchs.

They say you can judge a person by the company they keep.

For Boris Johnson that’s playing tennis with the wife of Vladimir Putin’s ex-finance minister.

It’s attending lavish parties with Evgeny Lebedev, his long-time friend, who also happens to be the owner of The Independent and Evening Standard newspapers.

He is also the son of a former KGB agent and has since been awarded a peerage, against the wishes of MI6.

Or even his close association with billionaire Russian Alexander Temerko.

Not to mention Viktor Fedotov too.

This week I drew attention to the allegation that, according to a former Conservative minister, the prime minister has attended ‘bunga bunga’ parties at the Italian castle belonging to a friend, a Russian oligarch.

This is important to record as the Government has been very slow to sanction Russian oligarchs and has sanctioned far fewer than the USA or EU countries.

The question is why?

I’ll leave you to try to join the dots…

Very simply, he’s a security risk.

It’s reported that MI6 doesn’t trust him... and you can see why.