Business owners, pensioners and families react to spring statement

‘I just about survived two lockdowns but this budget heaps more misery’: Business owners ‘working seven days a week’, pensioners and families react to spring statement – and say they ‘worry for the future’

  • Jeremy Hunt today announced £30billion of spending cuts and £24billion in tax rises over the next five years
  • The average family is likely to be more than £800 a year worse off, as stage also set for council tax increases
  • How are you affected by the budget? Contact me at [email protected] 
  • Follow all the twists and turns in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement on MailOnline’s live blog here 

Scores of cash-strapped Brits have reacted to today’s Autumn Statement as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced £30 billion of spending cuts and £24 billion in tax rises over the next five years.  

Business owners said they ‘fear for the future’ amid soaring meat and electricity costs, while the young are forced to cut back on their social lives and complain they are unable to afford dental care.

It comes despite plans to help the most financially vulnerable cope with inflation and soaring energy bills – those on means-tested benefits will receive an extra cost-of-living payment of £900, while pensioners will get £300 and those on disability allowances £150. 

Jools Cardozo, the owner of Farringdon and Forbes Home Interiors in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said she was now working seven days a week to keep her business afloat. 

‘As a single mum I worry about my future as a small business owner as I am currently working seven days a week until Christmas to keep costs down after not replacing staff, it’s a constant battle,’ she told MailOnline. 

‘I survived two lockdowns, just, but this latest budget heaps more misery for the High Street just before what is essentially our busiest time of year. 

‘The government needs to understand that it needs to help support small businesses in whatever way it can otherwise there will simply be no High Street left.’ 

Gindy Mathoon, owner of Create Finance, a mortgage broker, said: ‘Nothing spells recession more than an increase in taxes. We are facing a year like no other. Get yourself strapped in ready for a bumpy ride ahead.’ 

Jools Cardozo (pictured), the owner of Farringdon and Forbes Home Interiors in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, said the Autumn Statement would heap further misery on High Street shops

Kye Bourne (pictured), 20, who is unemployed and has been residing in supported living for two years, said he has stopped drinking alcohol and cancelled his Netflix subscription

English literature student Blyth Lyes, 19, who works behind a supermarket pizza counter, said she is having to contribute more to her parents’ housekeeping bills.

Extending the freeze on tax thresholds to 2028 will drag all workers deeper in the system, meaning they pay more 

Inflation in the UK hit 11.1% in October – the highest level in more than 40 years

Craig Bunting, founder of independent coffee shop Bear said: ‘I sit in one of our warm coffee houses in the beautiful market town of Stone, Staffordshire, having invested £000’s on a bricks & mortar store, yet hospitality remains one of the most highly taxed sectors in the UK. That does not support growth. 

‘The only thing growing is the misalignment between the central Government and the strong hospitality sector in the UK. The devil’s in the detail regarding the business rates reform and its impact. 

‘Also, much-needed VAT support for the sector has been completely ignored. The Government recognises there will be ‘troubled times ahead’, but it seems they take their morning coffee for granted.’

Adie Callaghan, founder and owner of New Forest Hamper Company, also blasted the statement, saying it offered ‘little hope or support at all’. 

She said: ‘Where was the focus on the entrepreneurs and local businesses which are the lifeblood of this country? They have been essentially overlooked once again.

‘In our local community, built on small businesses and independents, shopfronts are closing every week and the news this morning has done very little to dispel those fears felt across our region.

‘Businesses need help now – energy costs are prohibitive and the cost of supply chain is extortionate. I don’t feel there was anything to bring immediate relief to people or alleviate the very real pain they are suffering.

‘All we can do now is hope that those who do still have the means to shop and support our local high streets and businesses do so in force and in person, rather than favour the likes of Amazon and similar online, price-slashing alternatives.’

It came after Mr Hunt told the House of Commons taking ‘difficult decisions’ would mean a ‘shallower downturn’ as the OBR watchdog forecast that the economy is already in recession and will shrink by 1.4 per cent next year. 

It means all workers face paying more in tax as a freeze on the personal allowance, basic and higher income rates thresholds was extended to 2028, dragging people deeper into the system by ‘stealth’. 

The average family is likely to be more than £800 a year worse off, as the stage was also set for massive increases in council tax bills by easing the rules for local authorities to rake in cash to pay for services.

At the same time Mr Hunt confirmed that help with soaring energy bills is due to be reigned in. Ex-PM Liz Truss’s plan to underwrite all bills for two years will end after just six months and be replaced with targeted, cheaper, assistance aimed at those least able to pay.

It means families will be paying £1,000 extra by next spring. But he also unveiled moves to make the most well-off pay more tax, a move broadly supported by the public according to a poll this week. He also confirmed that pensions and benefits will rise in line with September’s inflation rate of 10.1 per cent. 

However people across the country, from the young to pensioners and business owners, say they will need to make drastic changes in a bid to cut down on their outgoings and remain fearful for the future.

Sam, who runs The Olive Works, a market stall in Bristol, revealed he had to stop selling lamb because it had become too expensive. 

‘Pretty much everything has gone up – the craziest one for us is the produce we’re buying in,’ he told Sky News. 

‘We’ve had to make changes to the menu just because of how expensive certain stuff is. 

‘We don’t sell lamb any more. It’s one of our biggest sellers but the price has almost doubled. 

‘There has also been a change in how much people spend – they’re not buying extra things like drinks.’  

Neighbouring restaurant owner Abdul said his bottom line has taken a hit in recent months. 

‘The squeeze for me has been the meat, it’s sky high… very, very expensive. And the vegetables, electric, everything went up.’ 

He added that he hoped the energy price cap would be extended in the Autumn statement, as his electricity bills are the ‘number one’ issue affecting his business. 

‘We used to pay £300, now we pay £600,’ he added, ‘everything went up… we are worried, winter is coming.’ 

Meanwhile Kye Bourne, 20, who is unemployed and has been residing in supported living for two years, said he has stopped drinking alcohol and cancelled his Netflix subscription. 

His rent is only £25 a month and he wants to find work, but is limited to 16 hours per week due to the housing benefits threshold. He is also concerned that he will be unable to receive dental care due to crippling waiting times on the NHS. 

He told the BBC: ‘It feels like I can only live and eat… I also answer surveys on the internet for a bit of extra cash. It helps a huge amount, an extra £40 a month.’  

He added: ‘I want to go out into the world, earn my independence and start living life, but it feels like a massive hurdle you can’t jump across.

‘My biggest concern is when I move into my own place, how am I going to pay the bills? It doesn’t seem possible.

‘My dream is to become an airline pilot. That’s why I want to work my bottom off and save to fund a licence. That’s my ticket out. It’s kind of rough but I’ve got hope.’ 

Elsewhere, English literature student Blyth Lyes, 19, who works behind a supermarket pizza counter, said she is having to contribute more to her parents’ housekeeping bills. 

She added: ‘We’ve had to start shopping at different supermarkets. We used to get treats but can’t because it’s too expensive with the cost of food going up.

‘We used to go out for meals quite frequently, but not any more.

Retired printer Colin Cummings (pictured with his wife), 70, said that he was ‘concerned’ as ‘things are difficult for people at the moment’

Robert Douglas, 50, who lives in Gateshead and works for Cancer Research UK, said there has been a noticeable rise in the cost of petrol, food and energy which is ‘impacting on the decisions we make’ 

‘I stress for my parents and whether they have enough to pay for bills. Simple things like the heating, we can’t have that on because it’s so expensive. It’s freezing in my house.’ 

Pensioners were also hoping that the triple lock was kept as they feel the brunt of soaring energy costs. 

Retired printer Colin Cummings, 70, told the Sunderland Echo that he was ‘concerned’ as ‘things are difficult for people at the moment.’ 

He added: ‘The cost of living has effected what we do. We are not putting our heating on as much and have changed our shopping habits to shop around for the best deals.

‘I’ve read that there may be an increase in council tax. Myself and my wife are pensioners and this will again mean more money going out. The price of everything is going up and so I really hope they keep to their triple lock commitment.’

Robert Douglas, 50, who lives in Gateshead and works for Cancer Research UK, said there has been a noticeable rise in the cost of petrol, food and energy which is ‘impacting on the decisions we make.’

He added: ‘We live in a council house and we were going to buy it, but the recent hike in interest rates means we can no longer afford to.

‘We can’t absorb any further tax rises, the budget should target taxing the big energy companies and the billions of profit they have made. This money can then be used to support people with their gas and electric bills.

‘I have no confidence the budget will help ordinary working people, in fact I think it’s more likely to be a hindrance.’

Everything you need to know about Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement  

Jeremy Hunt has outlined a package containing ‘difficult decisions’ that amounts to a ‘substantial tax increase’ in an autumn statement he said would put the UK on a ‘path to stability’.

The package represents a significant change from his predecessor Kwasi Kwarteng’s unfunded tax cuts in the disastrous mini-budget less than two months, ago which was widely blamed for having spooked the markets.

Here are the main points from the Chancellor’s autumn statement:

Growth and recession

– The OBR has said that the UK is ‘now in recession’, Mr Hunt said, but he added ‘overall this year, the economy is still forecast to grow by 4.2%’.

– Mr Hunt promised his autumn statement will lead to a ‘shallower downturn’ in the UK’s finances.

– Underlying debt as a percentage of GDP is expected to fall from a peak of 97.6% of GDP in 2025-26 to 97.3% in 2027-28.

– Mr Hunt announced two new fiscal rules, that underlying debt must fall as a percentage of GDP by the fifth year of a rolling five-year period, and that public sector borrowing, over the same period, must be below 3% of GDP.

Pay and support with the cost of living

– The energy price guarantee scheme will increase from £2,500 for the average household to £3,000 for 12 months from April, Mr Hunt confirmed.

– The Government will introduce additional cost-of-living payments for the ‘most vulnerable’, with £900 for those on benefits, £300 for pensioners and £150 for those on a disability benefit.

– The Chancellor said he will cap the increase in social rents at a maximum of 7% in 2023/24, saving the average tenant £200 next year.

– Mr Hunt has accepted a recommendation to increase the national living wage by 9.7%, making the hourly rate £10.42 from April 2023.


– The Chancellor told MPs the Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) has confirmed ‘global factors’ are the ‘primary cause’ of inflation.

– The OBR forecasts the UK’s inflation rate to be 9.1% this year and 7.4% next year.

– He said the autumn statement will cause inflation to ‘fall sharply from the middle of next year’.

– The Chancellor confirmed the Bank of England’s remit will not be changed and it has his ‘wholehearted support in its mission to defeat inflation’.


– Mr Hunt reduced the threshold at which the top rate of income tax is paid from £150,000 to £125,140, but said he was not raising headline rates of taxation. He said those earning £150,000 or more will pay just over £1,200 more a year.

– Mr Hunt said he would protect the increases in departmental budgets already set out in cash terms, before growing resource spending at 1% a year in real terms over the next three years. He said public spending would grow ‘slower than the economy’.

– Electric vehicles will no longer be exempt from Vehicle Excise Duty from April 2025 to make the motoring tax system ‘fairer’.

– Mr Hunt increased the windfall tax on oil and gas giants from 25% to 35% and imposed a 45% levy on electricity generators to raise an estimated £14 billion next year.

– On business rates, Mr Hunt said the Government will proceed with the revaluation of business properties from April 2023.

– The stamp duty cuts announced in the mini-budget will remain in place but only until March 31 2025. Mr Hunt told the House the OBR expects housing activity to slow over the next two years.

– On business taxes, the Chancellor said he had decided to freeze the Employers National Insurance Contributions threshold until April 2028. ‘We will retain the Employment Allowance at its new, higher level of £5,000,’ he said.

– The Chancellor rejected calls to put VAT on independent school fees.


– Mr Hunt said he will increase the NHS budget by an extra £3.3 billion in each of the next two years.

– The NHS will be asked to ‘join all public services in tackling waste and inefficiency’.

– Mr Hunt said the NHS would publish an independently-verified plan for the number of doctors, nurses and other professionals needed in five, 10 and 15 years’ time.

– He allocated for adult social care additional grant funding of £1 billion next year and £1.7 billion the year after.

Spending and benefits

– Mr Hunt said ‘with just under half of the £55 billion consolidation coming from tax, and just over half from spending, this is a balanced plan for stability’.

– The Chancellor said he will invest an extra £2.3 billion per year in schools over the next two years.

– It will ‘not be possible’ to return to the 0.7% overseas aid target ‘until the fiscal situation allows’, Mr Hunt said.

– He said he will maintain the defence budget at at least 2% of GDP.

– Mr Hunt said he would move back the managed transition of people from employment and support allowance on to Universal Credit to 2028.

– The implementation of the Dilnot reforms will be delayed for two years, Mr Hunt confirmed, announcing an increase in funding for the social care sector of up to £2.8 billion next year and £4.7 billion the following year.

– The Barnett consequentials of the autumn statement mean an extra £1.5bn for the Scottish Government, £1.2bn for the Welsh Government, and £650m for the Northern Ireland Executive.

– The Chancellor said he would not cut ‘a penny’ from Government capital budgets over the next two years, and would then maintain them at that level for the next three years.

– Working age and disability benefits will increase in line with inflation, with a rise of 10.1%, costing £11 billion.

– State pensions will increase in line with inflation in April, as Mr Hunt announced the ‘biggest ever cash increase in the state pension’.

Climate and energy

– Mr Hunt said ‘we remain fully committed to the historic Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 including a 68% reduction in our emissions by 2030’.

– The Chancellor said he would add an extra £6 billion of investment in energy efficiency from 2025 to help meet a new ambition of reducing energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030, adding this could – according to today’s prices – save £28 billion from the national energy bill or £450 off the average household bill.

– The Government will proceed with the new nuclear plant at Sizewell C.


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