How accurate are Jeremy Hunt’s claims about the UK economy? | Jeremy Hunt

Jeremy Hunt called a press conference on Friday to outline why voters should trust the Conservatives on the economy, but some of his claims appeared to use cherrypicked facts and figures. Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves gave her speech a week after she accused the Conservatives of „gaslighting” the UK about the state of the economy by presenting a picture of what was really happening.

Here are some of Hunt’s statements on the economy and some context for his claims.

  1. 1. The UK economy is doing better than other countries, including the US, as it recovers from recession

    Hunt appears to be basing only a quarter of GDP growth on the UK economy, which showed modest growth of 0.6% compared to the previous quarter. This is actually better than the US’s 0.4% and the Eurozone’s 0.3%. However, the bigger picture shows that Britain has emerged from the pandemic in much worse growth shape than other major global players. Figures from the House of Commons Library show UK real GDP growth was only 1.7% Compared to its pre-epidemic state; It was 8.7% for the US and 3.4% for the Eurozone.

  2. 2. Conservative governments have brought the economy back to its feet after the shocks of the financial crisis, the Covid pandemic and the Ukraine-related energy shock.

    Hunt said the economy has experienced massive global shocks over the past 15 years. He highlighted the government’s support for families during the Covid years and energy tariff support during the price hike after the war in Ukraine began.

    However, he failed to mention the Conservatives’ role in the bond market crisis and rising mortgage rates in his speech after then-prime minister Liz Truss and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng delivered an underfunded budget. Many are still feeling the effects of a cost-of-living crisis worsened by high interest rates and the Conservatives’ Brexit administration.

  3. 3. Living standards rose 1.3% last year, but the Office for Budget Responsibility predicts it will fall by more than half that.

    Hunt’s claim is based on real household disposable income per head, which rose by 1.3% last year to £20,779. However, this does not compensate for the sharp fall in living standards during the pandemic, with real household disposable income per head yet to rebound at £20,963 in 2019.

    The OBR recently revised its projections for real household incomes, but in its report accompanying the March Budget it said: „Financial year 2022-23 has seen the biggest year-on-year drop in living standards Since ONS records began in the 1950s”.

  4. 4. Inflation has fallen to 3% after peaking at 11%

    It is true that inflation has returned to its target. But Torsten Bell, founder of the Resolution Foundation, a New report The UK’s inflation shock is the largest of the G7, with 11 years’ worth (22%) of normal (2%) inflation occurring over three years.

  5. 5. Real wages have risen for 10 consecutive months

    Real wages are indeed rising, but this comes after a squeeze, with real wages falling 2.3% since the start of 2021. Same statement There is a large variation in the growth of people’s wages: the lowest earners have done better than the highest earners, because the minimum wage is broadly in line with prices; And „there is also a large public/private divide, with average weekly earnings for public sector workers falling by 5.9% from early 2021 to 1.6% in the private sector”.

  6. 6. The UK has 4 million jobs, more new jobs than anywhere else in Europe

    Hunt boasted of the UK’s employment record, with 4 million new jobs created, but failed to mention the 2.8 million people out of work due to ill health. The UK is the only country in the G7 where the share of working-age people who are economically inactive is higher than before the pandemic.

  7. 7. Labor governments raise taxes, while the Conservatives look to cut them

    Hunt said Labor would impose taxes and the Conservatives would aim to cut them. Hunt acknowledged that the government raised taxes to pay for the pandemic. However, he failed to acknowledge that the tax burden has been rising since 2019, or that projections show the tax burden is on track to reach its highest level since 1948, driven by income tax caps and a freeze on higher corporation tax.

  8. 8. Retirees must trust conservatives to lower their taxes

    Hunt denied Labor claims that the Conservatives’ ambition to scrap National Insurance would spell the end of the state pension as we know it. But he also argued that the Tories were the party of tax cuts for pensioners, and cutting National Insurance would do nothing for this non-working age group.

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