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Kuenssberg angers Chancellor over economic claims: “It sounds like you’re in a parallel universe”

The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg told Jeremy Hunt after his recent claims about the cost of living crisis and the economy: “It sounds like you’re in a parallel universe.”

The Chancellor hit the headlines after posting on X on Friday that £100,000 wasn’t a “huge salary” after mortgage costs and childcare.

His colleague, Minister Andrea Leadsom, also caused a stir this week after claiming that the cost of living crisis was over and that inflation was now falling.

The Sunday with Laura presenter Kuenssberg then pointed out that private rents have risen by 9% since 2023, Group D council tax has risen by 5.1% since 2023 and petrol prices have risen by 2.3p since January 2024.

After reminding Hunt of these incidents, she asked, “Isn’t there a danger that you actually sound like you’re in a parallel universe?”

Hunt said he had spoken to one of his constituents about funding childcare in an area where house prices average around £670,000.

However, the BBC journalist noted: “In your area, in Surrey, the average full-time wage is not even half that.” It’s £42,000.

“Don’t you think to a lot of people who hear that it just sounds completely out of touch?”

Hunt said: “Well, I spoke to one of my constituents who said that, but I accept that even the people on those higher salaries are under pressure.”

He said for the national average salary – those earning £35,000 – he had their national insurance contributions reduced, while those on a national living wage saw an increase.

In fact, people will pay more taxes because of fiscal stress – where tax thresholds do not change in line with inflation and rising wages.

“At the end of this parliament, these people will be worse off,” said Kuenssberg saidnoting that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak still says the economy is recovering.

The Chancellor pointed this out Office of Budget Responsibility says we will do it recover The pre-pandemic standard of living was reduced to pre-pandemic living standards “two years earlier than previously thought” and the “plan was said to be beginning to bear fruit”.

Elsewhere, Kuenssberg also asked: “Is the cost of living crisis over?”

Hunt admitted: “We have had a very, very difficult period,” but blamed the invasion of Ukraine for the rise in energy prices and the Covid pandemic.

He continued: “I think people will welcome the fact that inflation has come down – but we are not there yet.

“We have to stick to our course because we need inflation to fall to 2%.

“The biggest difference for families across the country will come when interest rates fall and mortgage rates begin to decline.”

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