Rishi Sunak will deliver a highly-anticipated speech at Conservative Party conference in Manchester today.
Sunak will lay out plans for the economy at a time when many people are feeling the pinch of rising living costs as the government is withdrawing some of the Covid support schemes.
What is Rishi Sunak expected to say?
Sunak will use his speech to set out a vision for the economy to be shaped around “the forces of science, technology and imagination”.
The chancellor will pledge to “make the United Kingdom the most exciting place on the planet” by funding infrastructure, a skills boost and investment in sciences.
It has been reported that Sunak will announce a £500m funding boost to help people get into work, or find better jobs, as many of the government’s Covid support schemes come to an end.
He will say that the new funding will be used to help workers leaving the furlough scheme and unemployed over-50s back into work, while the “kickstart” scheme for young people will also be extended.
The Chancellor’s speech comes at a difficult time for the economy, with warnings of a cost of living crisis for some households who face rising energy bills, price hikes in shops and a cut to Universal Credit.
Household budgets will sustain a further blow next April when national insurance contributions rise by 1.25% to help fund the NHS and social care.
Ahead of his first in-person speech at the conference as Chancellor, Mr Sunak said he is “ready to double-down” on his promise to “do whatever it takes” to recover from Covid-19.
He said the furlough scheme protected 11 million jobs and the UK is “experiencing one of the strongest and fastest recoveries of any major economy in the world”.
He added: “But the job is not done yet and I want to make sure our economy is fit for the future, and that means providing the support and skills people need to get into work and get on in life.”
The kickstart scheme helping young people on Universal Credit will be extended to March next year under the measures.
The £3,000 incentive for new apprentices will be extended until the end of January.
Individuals who have come off furlough and are on Universal Credit will also be prioritised for help to find jobs under the “job finding support” scheme lasting until the end of the year.
Speaking before the conference Sunak failed to rule out increases to council tax or income tax before the next election.
On the Conservative’s approach to taxation, Sunak said: “I think it is entirely Conservative to manage the nation’s public finances responsibly and make sure things add up. Remember, we’ve suffered the biggest economic shock in 300 years.
“Now obviously that’s had an impact and, given that we’ve got commitments that we want want to make – whether it’s on the NHS, whether it’s more police officers, whether it’s levelling up around the country – we want to make sure we can deliver on those, which is why we’ve taken these decisions, but we’ve been upfront with people about it and why we’re doing it, doing it in what I believe to be a fair way.”
Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, responding to the Government’s ‘Plan for Jobs’ expansion, said: “The Government’s struggling Plan for Jobs has failed to hit its original targets; it is not creating the number of jobs needed and has failed to address the supply chain crisis Britain is experiencing.
“Giving himself an extended deadline will do nothing to compensate for the Chancellor’s tax rises, cost of living crisis and cuts to Universal Credit which are set to hammer millions of working families.”
He added; “Labour would create new jobs with our plan to buy, make and sell more in Britain to get our economy firing on all cylinders.”
What time is Rishi Sunak expected to speak?
The Chancellor will deliver his speech today, on ‘Business Day’ at Conservative Party conference.
Sunak is expected to speak at 11:50am.
How to watch Rishi Sunak’s speech at Conservative Party conference
While Conservative Party conference will not be televised in its entirety, many of the most important speeches, including Rishi Sunak’s will be covered live by most news channels.
You can watch coverage of the speech on BBC News, through the iPlayer, or on Sky News’ official YouTube channel.
You can also livestream the speech through the Conservative Party’s official YouTube channel.
Where is the conference taking place?
The conference will take place online and in person, in Manchester, at the Central Convention Complex.
The Conservative party conference often draws protests, and this year in Manchester will likely be no different.
Leaseholders from Manchester and the rest of the country who’ve been caught up in the cladding scandal held a demonstration on Sunday, which new housing secretary Michael Gove failed to attend despite being invited to speak.
Greater Manchester Police have said they “will intervene” if protestors disrupt the conference, following speculation that Insulate Britain could make an appearance.