Martin Lewis gives verdict on Budget and shares fears for 'squeezed middle'
Money guru Martin Lewis has responded to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's Autumn Statement today, in which tens of billions of pounds of tax rises and spending cuts were announced.
The founder of MoneySavingExpert.com welcomed the 10.1% increase in benefits and state pension, but said it would be "difficult" for the "squeezed" middle, as many won't be eligible for much of the support announced.
Martin shared updates on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt's budget as it happened on Twitter, and wrote afterwards: "I am very pleased that both benefits and the state pension are being increased by the 10.1% September inflation rate.
"It only happens from next April, and it will still be hard for many, but if it was less than this it would've been devastating."
It comes after Hunt announced that both pensions and Universal Credit would go up in line with inflation.
A 10.1% rise - costing £11bn - will likely take the New State Pension up by £18.70 a week, from £185.15 to £203.85. The rise will be worth £870 over the year.
And it will take the standard allowance in Universal Credit for a single person over 25 from £335 to £369 a month. The average family on the benefit will benefit by around £600, Mr Hunt said.
Speaking shortly after on Radio 4's World at One, Lewis said it "certainly looks like help has been put in place for those on the lowest incomes".
He added, however, that it would be "difficult for those in the 'squeezed middle'" - especially when it comes to energy costs.
"They won't get any help apart from the Energy Price Guarantee," he added.
Later, in a 10 minute video on his Twitter channel, Martin added: "The energy price guarantee lasts until the end of March 2024. But we will see another rise - on typical use, you go up from £2,500 a year to £3k a year. It's very early days.
"They are consulting on moving to a social tariff system. It means the most vulnerable will be put on a cheaper tariff."
He added: "There was little said but Support For Mortgage Interest for those who've lost jobs is set to be claimable after three months - not nine months.
"I met with Jeremy Hunt, I pushed hard and he'll call banks to a summit so we can talk flexibility and forebearance before spring, so we can help people. I will be there."
The Energy Price Guarantee - a state subsidy applied to all energy bills - will run until the end of March 2024, Hunt announced.
Lewis said those on middle incomes wouldn't get the extra cost of living payments worth up to £1,350 to help towards the rise in energy costs.
This includes £900 to households on certain means-tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Pension Credit.
Lewis said one change he felt was particularly positive was new, improved support for those who are struggling to pay their mortgage because they've lost their job.
Previously the government would cover the interest on your mortgage if you have not been earning for nine months, while now you only have to be out of work for three months to be eligible.
Lewis said it was a change he'd pushed for "for a long time".