Rishi Sunak pledges to 'stand by' struggling households as he hints at fuel duty cut

Rishi Sunak has pledged to “stand by” struggling households as he faces mounting pressure to alleviate the cost of living crisis.

The Chancellor appeared to hint he could cut fuel duty in his spring statement on Wednesday in a bid to help reduce the growing burden on families.

Soaring petrol prices, rocketing energy bills, widespread inflation and a hike in National Insurance contributions from next month are all piling pressure on household budgets.

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Labour said it would back a fuel duty cut but called for further action, including a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak appearing on the BBC's Sunday Morning programme. Picture: Jeff Overs/BBC/PA Wire

The SNP insisted the Chancellor should deliver "an emergency package of support", including raising benefits by at least 6 per cent and scrapping the National Insurance increase.

During interviews on Sunday, Mr Sunak highlighted that as an MP representing a rural constituency in Yorkshire, he knows high prices at the pumps are “one of the biggest bills people face”.

He told Sky News’ Sophy Ridge On Sunday programme: “Obviously I can’t comment on specific things (that will be in the spring statement).

“But what I would say, I understand that… I have a rural constituency, people are incredibly reliant on their cars and this is one of the biggest bills that people face, watching it go up.

“We’re all seeing that, when we’re filling up our cars. I get that, that’s why we’ve frozen fuel duty already.”

With the UK Government having frozen fuel duty for 11 consecutive years, Mr Sunak said he knows such action “really helps people”.

Labour shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said a 5p cut in fuel duty would “only reduce filling up the car with petrol by £2”.

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She told Sophy Ridge: “I don’t think that really rises to the scale of the challenge we face at the moment.”

Personal finance expert Martin Lewis said the crisis facing households was worse than during the pandemic or following the 2008 financial crash.

He said rising energy bills, which will soar by 54 per cent next month for a typical household, are already "catastrophic" and are expected to increase further in October.

He told the BBC: "As the money saving expert who's been known for this, I am virtually out of tools to help people now."

The Chancellor said he could not "speculate" on any tax decisions. There have been reports of a cut to income tax down south.

The Treasury has already announced plans to offer financial support to the public through a £150 council tax rebate to some households – a move mirrored in Scotland – and a repayable £200 saving on energy bills this year.

Mr Sunak told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “The steps we have taken to sanction Russia are not cost-free for us here at home, and I want to be honest with people that it is not going to be easy.

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“I wish Government could solve absolutely every problem and that I could fully protect people against the challenges that lie ahead, but I can’t do that.

“But what I would say is that I will stand by them in the same way that I have done in the past couple of years.

“Where we can make a difference, of course we will.”

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