Think tanks and political opponents noted that Mr Sunak, despite hailing Wednesday’s tax cuts, was still overall a tax-raising chancellor.
Paul Johnson, the director of the Institute For Fiscal Studies think tank, said: “If he wants to be remembered as a tax reforming chancellor, so far he is headed in the wrong direction.”
Some hidden impacts of changes also emerged, including low earners who pay into their pensions losing tax relief and a new £ 33 billion to be raised from student loan repayment changes.
Speaking in a climate of renewed economic uncertainty caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which followed two years of Covid turmoil, Mr Sunak picked “security” as his theme.
“When I talk about security, yes I mean responding to the war in Ukraine. But I also mean the security of a faster-growing economy,” the Chancellor said. “The security of more resilient public finances, and security for working families as we help with the cost of living.”
But the economic statistics published alongside his limited policy interventions laid bare the uncertainty the UK faces in the months and years ahead.
Inflation will hit 7.4 per cent this year but could get closer to nine per cent in the final months of the year, the OBR said – a level not seen in 40 years.