Jeremy Hunt autumn statement: Why I've been a lot more worried about money and the budget statement hasn't changed that - Alexander Brown

There was a moment in my career where I had essentially stopped thinking about money.

It’s not that I was incredibly rich. I just was doing well enough to pay rent, go to the pub occasionally and never go past a bakery without getting something.

I even bought a Playstation 5 and a Nintendo Switch because I am a child in a 31-year-old’s body, with my only concern being my mum telling me off if she found out how much they’d cost.

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Then each month I’d set £200 aside for a help to buy, because young people are priced out of the property market, but at least I could pretend I was planning for the future.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's budget cuts are going to make life worse for many. Picture: Rob Pinney/Getty ImagesChancellor Jeremy Hunt's budget cuts are going to make life worse for many. Picture: Rob Pinney/Getty Images
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's budget cuts are going to make life worse for many. Picture: Rob Pinney/Getty Images

I’d look up recipes I fancied and pick up bits from the local shop on my way home, thinking nothing of the cost, only the endless allure of the humble artichoke. After years of getting paid nothing because employers for entry-level journalism jobs believe training and experience is more appealing than a proper salary, I was comfortable.

But these past few months, something has changed, despite there being no difference in my pay. Suddenly I didn’t quite have that money to put in a savings account, my Monzo account needed a lot more top-ups than usual, and I had to think, really think about what I was buying.

I remember not so long ago seeing four pints of milk cost more than £1 and leaving the supermarket thinking it was outrageous, fleeing like I’d just been the victim of a crime.

Oh sweet summer child, how naive I was. It’s now £1.85, butter is nearly three quid and a Freddo is probably a tenner. We all know the prices are going up, but feeling it, really knowing you’re getting less for more, is awful.

And the thing is, I can absolutely afford it. I’m even going for dinner after I’ve finished writing this column. But for so many in Britain, this isn't something they’re merely aware of, but instead an ongoing struggle of trying to put food on the table.

Incomes are about to plummet to 2013 levels, seeing the biggest fall in living standards since records began in 1956/57, and the UK Government is trying to find £55 billion of savings. Benefits rising in line with inflation is welcome, but the standard monthly payment is still around £50 lower in real terms than in 2010.

Things have been getting more expensive for months and they’re only going to get worse, no matter how many times someone says “compassionate Conservatism”.

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More than 14.5 million people are living in poverty in the UK, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, including 4.3 million children. Another million are set to join them as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis and the Office for Budget Responsibility says unemployment is going to rise.

It is going to be so bad for so many and, while I have no doubt I’ll be fine, it’s on the fringes of my thoughts every time I go to the supermarket. The autumn statement hasn’t changed that, and being honest about hardship isn’t the same as getting people through it.



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