Rishi Sunak has admitted he goes to bed “every night” knowing that he “can’t solve all the problems that people want me to” following criticism of his spring statement.
Speaking on this week’s Beth Rigby Interviews programme, the chancellor said that “no matter how many hours” he works, he knows that “I can’t ever in this job do all the things that people would like me to do”.
It comes as the chancellor continues to defend his much-critiqued spring statement, arguing that the UK is recovering from its biggest shock in 300 years and he is doing what he can.
After unveiling his spring statement yesterday, Mr Sunak has been accused of failing to help those who are out of work and on lower incomes.
The Office for Budget Responsibility, which provides the government with economic forecasts, said the rise in inflation is expected to cause “the biggest fall in living standards in any single financial year since ONS records began in 1956-57”.
The Resolution Foundation, a living standards think tank, warned the lack of support for low-income families in the spring statement leaves 1.3 million people – including 500,000 children – on the verge of “absolute poverty”.
Read more: Key points in Rishi Sunak’s spring statement
Peter Aldous, one of the only Conservative MPs to criticise the plan, said he was “disappointed” the chancellor did not help Universal Credit claimants and said instead they will “once again see a significant fall in their spending power following a decade of real-terms freezes or cuts”.
Meanwhile, the Institute for Fiscal Studies said “the biggest omission” from the spring statement was “anything for those subsisting on means-tested benefits”, who will be facing cost of living increases of about 10% “but their benefits will rise by just 3.1%”.
‘I’m still a dad, I’m still a husband’
Speaking openly to Sky News’ political editor Beth Rigby, Mr Sunak also admitted struggling to balance his personal and professional lives.
Asked what he gets wrong in his life, the chancellor said: “I want to be the best possible person I can in this job because a lot of people are counting on me to do a really good job and I’ve a big responsibility.
“And we’ve got the challenges – and at the same time – I’m still a dad, I’m still a husband.
“And being good at those roles is also really important to me, and candidly, it is a constant struggle. So that is probably the biggest thing.”
He continued: “On a daily basis, I’m confronted with the fact that I can’t ever in this job do all the things that people would like me to do – and I have to deal with that every single day.
“I have to, every single day, know that I can’t solve all the problems that people want me to, no matter how many hours, and I put in quite a lot.
“And no matter how many I put in, I can’t solve all those problems.
“I can’t protect everybody against everything that is coming their way – and of course I have to go to bed every night knowing that.”
‘Poorest are my priority’
Speaking to Sky News earlier on Thursday, Mr Sunak said he knows families are struggling with the rising cost of living and that is “why I announced a tax plan which delivers the biggest net cut in personal taxes in over a quarter of a century”.
“I’m cutting fuel duty at 5p a litre, raising national insurance thresholds, giving 30 million workers a tax saving of £300 and cutting income tax for the first time,” the chancellor said.
He added that people should “judge me by my actions”, including the measures he took during the pandemic.
Beth Rigby Interviews is on at 9pm tonight on Sky News.