Parliamentary Committees and Public Enquiries
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Committee publishes report on Budget and Spending Review

The Treasury Committee report, which was unanimously agreed by the cross-party Committee of MPs, explores the current tax burden, changes to the health and social care levy and the pre-briefing of budget measures to the media.

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Levelling up policy is also considered, as well as departmental spending allocations and changes to research and development spending since the UK’s exit from the EU.

It comes as the Committee also publishes correspondence from the top civil servant at the Treasury on the pre-briefing of the national living wage increase announcement to the media.

In a letter to the Committee Chair, the Permanent Secretary at the Treasury outlines that there was an unauthorised disclosure of information, and the department responded by briefing the press about the changes. The Committee today raises concerns this pre-briefing could have breached insider information and market sensitivity rules, as the change impacted certain sectors more than others.

The Permanent Secretary previously told the Committee that pre-briefing the announcement was not an abuse of market sensitivity, as the change impacted the economy as a whole.

Chair's comment

Commenting on the report, Rt. Hon. Mel Stride MP, Chair of the Treasury Committee, said:

“With the nation recovering from the pandemic, November’s budget and spending review were especially important. The Chancellor had a difficult job on his hands, balancing calls for increased spending from numerous departments with financing the Government’s ‘net zero’ and ‘levelling up’ commitments, all the while getting the public finances under control.

“With inflation rising significantly, concerns about pressure on the cost of living are growing. While the Prime Minister’s ambition to promote high wage growth is worthy, focusing on increasing wages without improving productivity is likely to be inflationary, and risks contributing to a wage price spiral.

“The Chancellor has stated his ambition to cut taxes before the end of the Parliament. In October, there was little room for manoeuvre, but there has been positive news from the public finances since then. While further good news may help him achieve this ambition, significant risks remain, most notably from the impact of inflation.

“We thank everyone who gave evidence to our inquiry and look forward to receiving the Government’s response.”

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