Fiscal statement delay signals ‘Government reset’ under Sunak

Fiscal statement: Markets are 'calmer' under Sunak says Rigby

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Jeremy Hunt has confirmed the much-anticipated statement on the Government’s economic plan will now face a two-week delay under the fresh leadership of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The fiscal statement was initially planned for the end of October in a bid to outline how the Treasury under former Prime Minister Liz Truss planned to manage tax cuts, public spending and government debt. Political commentators have noted the decision marks a “reset” in economic policy under the new Conservative leader as market pressures have eased since Rishi Sunak took office in Number Ten.

Sky News political editor Beth Rigby explained: “It is another sign of the way in which this Government is resetting – they don’t want to rush these decisions. 

“He [Jeremy Hunt] had said it is going to be a full autumn statement. It will be much more like a budget, these are the big tax and spending decisions.

“Rishi Sunak does not want to be bounced or rushed into that and they feel they can delay because the markets have become much calmer and more stable with the change in leadership in Number Ten.”

She added: “The whole landscape politically has changed and that has given them economically, and in terms of the markets, a bit more wiggle room and a bit more breathing space.”

Speaking on Wednesday ahead of Rishi Sunak’s first Prime Minister’s Questions, the Chancellor announced: “Our 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 and I want to confirm that it will demonstrate debt falling over the medium term, which is very important for people to understand.

“It is also extremely important that the statement is based on the most accurate possible economic and public finance forecasts. 

“For that reason, the Prime Minister and I have decided that it is prudent to make that statement on November 17, when it will be upgraded to a full autumn statement.”

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Discussing the shift in dates, Beth Rigby noted: “The reason it was originally put in for that date was to try to calm markets that were very uneasy about Liz Truss’s mini-budget, the then reversal of it, the appointment of a new Chancellor. 

“All of this choreography was designed to calm the markets and try and give some sense that this government was going to set out a long-term fiscal plan on how it intended to start paying down the debt of the country over a five-year time frame.

“It was in a way done to try to prop up a failing Liz Truss government. Now, everything has changed in the last 48 hours with Rishi Sunak now Prime Minister.”

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The Chancellor asserted that the decision to delay the economic statement had been discussed with the Governor of the Bank of England prior to his announcement.

Jeremy Hunt acknowledged that there had been “a lot of market turbulence” and the delay would allow the refreshed government under the new Prime Minister to discuss their plan with the appropriate fiscal evidence to hand.

He added that he hoped the “difficult decisions” ahead would “stand the test of time” in reassuring the markets by outlining a long-term economic map.

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