A former cabinet minister claimed “we’re all going to be better off” just hours before the chancellor unveils his budget.
Robert Jenrick, who lost his job as housing secretary in the recent reshuffle, said forecasts gave the chancellor “more room” to invest in public services.
It comes as Rishi Sunak is set to unveil his heavily previewed budget and spending review to the house of commons on Wednesday afternoon.
Major measures already announced include an end to the public sector pay freeze and a rise in the national living wage. Fuel duty is also expected to be frozen in order to help with soaring petrol prices.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and Sunak are due to visit a brewery on Wednesday – suggesting cuts to alcohol duties are on the cards.
Asked who was going to be better off after the budget, Jenrick told Sky News: “I think we’re all going to be better off in the sense that it looks like the OBR [Office for Budget Responsibility] forecasts are going to show that the economy has grown substantially, therefore we’re borrowing much less money as a country.
“And that gives some more room for the chancellor to invest in the future of public services which we all depend on like the NHS.”
He said Sunak had to “think carefully” about how to help those on modest incomes in a difficult period of rising inflation and higher energy prices.
Presenter Kay Burley pressed him on the claim that we would all be better off, asking whether public sector workers would get an above inflation pay rise.
Jenrick replied: “Well, we don’t know and we can’t say that yet, can we?”
Burley quipped: “If you say everybody’s going to be better off it’s got to be higher than inflation hasn’t it?”
But Jenrick said public sector pay would be set by “pay review bodies” who advise the relevant government department.
He added: “I think what the chancellor is going to say is that we’re able as a result of the growing economy to move into a more normal period.
“That means that he’s going to be asking those pay review bodies to come forward with their proposals and that he’ll consider those - or the relevant government departments - will consider them next year.
“So I don’t think he’ll be in the position to say exactly what you would like him to say just yet, but that’s going to be a few months off. So people just have to wait a bit longer.”
"We just don't know what the future holds."
Former Treasury Minister Robert Jenrick tells @KayBurley the chancellor will have to "think carefully" about those on "modest incomes" as inflation and energy prices rise.
Follow #Budget2021 live: https://t.co/vqiWaiMsI1#KayBurleypic.twitter.com/N2lV54x1Pd
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 27, 2021
When it was pointed out the government could override the pay review bodies, he replied: “I think we’re all just going to have to wait and see what the pay review bodies report back and there’d be no point circumventing that process, given that it’s been set up in that way.”
The chancellor is expected to strike an upbeat tone in today’s speech, claiming that his management of the UK’s finances has left the country in a better place than expected.
However, it comes in the middle of a worsening cost-of-living crisis, with labour shortages, supply issues, soaring energy bills and looming inflation rises.
Sunak is expected to be on his feet in the commons from 12.40pm when HuffPost UK will be taking you through all the major announcements.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.