The leader of Sunderland City Council has slammed the Government’s failure to address the spiralling cost of living crisis in today’s Spring Statement.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, promised to offer ‘further security for working families’ in the build-up to the mini-budget, however Cllr Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland’s ruling Labour Group, has slammed the Chancellor for being full of ‘empty promises’ and ‘pushing thousands more families closer to the edge of the breadline’.

UK CPI inflation has already hit 5.5 per cent, raising the cost of food, energy and transport at the fastest rate for three decades, and economists have announced today – following the Spring Statement – that they are now bracing for it to reach an all-time-high of 8.7 per cent by the end of 2022.

Speaking after the statement was delivered, Cllr Miller said: “The Spring Statement is absolutely tone deaf. To deliver a mini-budget, which increases taxes on working families, yet fails to address the ever-spiralling cost of living crisis, shows just how serious this Government is about ‘levelling up’ cities such as Sunderland.

“Instead of imposing a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producers, who’s executives enjoy the spoils of millions of pounds in bonuses each and every year, the people of Sunderland are instead being forced to pay the price at the pump through the measly 5p fuel duty increase which won’t even dent producers’ profits and will simply take us back to last week’s prices.

“Faced with rising food, fuel and energy costs, as well as rising council tax imposed by government, thousands of families across Sunderland are already struggling to make ends meet and this will push many even closer to the edge of the breadline, by being forced to choose between eating or heating their home.

“Despite promising to cut taxes, the chancellor is now on course to be one of the biggest tax-raising chancellors in post-war UK history, with the burden of taxation predicted to rise to 36.2 per cent of GDP by 2026-27, and it is families in places like Sunderland that will be hit hardest.”

The chancellor also used the Spring Statement to raise the threshold at which employees begin paying national insurance contributions (NICs), deferring the 1.25-point NICs increase for employers and an increase in employment allowance for small firms to £5,000.

Despite this, Cllr Miller believes the failure to axe the National Insurance hike entirely and his refusal to raise pension benefits beyond the 3.1 per cent mark will leave thousands of vulnerable families in the red, with young people set to be hit hardest.

A recent report by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) revealed that seven in 10 children in poverty now grow up in a working household, with the North East having the second highest rate of child poverty in the UK behind London, amounting to 37 per cent of children.

Cllr Miller added: “The North East already has the second highest rate of child poverty in the UK and the chancellor has done absolutely nothing to reduce child poverty in his statement. If anything, he is simply fuelling the rise of it through his failure to support families, by yet again failing to increase social security payments and the living wage.

“Once again, it’s another kick in the teeth for working people. Another broken promise. And another case of the Tories giving with one hand while taking away with the other.”