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Kay Burley And Ed Balls Leave Minister Flailing Live On Air Over Inflation

Kay Burley And Ed Balls Leave Minister Flailing Live On Air Over Inflation

A minister floundered in two separate interviews this morning when TV presenters called her out for her comments around inflation.

The Office for National Statistics announced that inflation had fallen to 3.2% on Wednesday, the lowest rates seen in the UK since the cost of living crisis began in 2021.

The government has widely taken responsibility for this decline – but, it’s actually up to the independent Bank of England to manage the country’s inflation rates.

The government just sets the inflation target rate of 2%.

Even so, the chief secretary to the Treasury, Laura Trott, told Sky News this morning the recent drop in inflation “hasn’t happened by accident”.

She continued: “When the prime minister took over, inflation was at 11%, food was at nearly 20%, that was so difficult for everyone at home.

“But because of the action we’ve taken, alongside the Bank of England, which has been praised by the IMF and the OBR has been very clear that the actions we’ve taken this year in the Budget have been deflationary, it’s now down.”

“But when inflation was going up, you said it was nothing to do with you,” Sky presenter Kay Burley pointed out. “Now it’s coming down, it’s everything to do with the prime minister.”

When inflation peaked at 11.1% in October 2022, a 41-year high, the government was quick to attribute this to global factors like Covid recovery.

PM Rishi Sunak made halving inflation one of his five pledges for the year at the start of 2023 – when economic forecasts already predicted that inflation would rapidly decline before the year was out.

This was the only pledge Sunak actually fulfilled.

However, Trott haltingly told Sky News: “No, the way that inflation works – it was obviously a huge inflationary shock – Putin’s illegal war in Ukraine did add massive pressure on energy prices in the UK.

“It’s very difficult once inflation starts to bring it down.”

She said the government has worked to increase the supply side of the economy, and worked “very closely” with the Bank of England to make inflation come down.

It’s worth remembering that Paul Johnson, director of the IFS, an economics think tank, told the BBC last year it was “inappropriate” and “opportunistic” for the government to take responsibility for declining inflation.

He said: “That’s not their job and not something over which they have a lot of control.”

Then there was another awkward exchange on ITV’s Good Morning Britain when Trott appeared to get confused over what the inflation rate is.

She said: “Inflation is coming down, crucially we saw food prices coming down.”

Inflation is the rate at which prices change over a 12-month period. Unless it goes into a negative value, the cost of goods will not be going down – they’ll just be going up at a slower rate.

Presenter Ed Balls cut in and said: “I think you misspoke just then. When you said prices are coming down, did you mean prices are going up?”

“Sorry, the rate at which prices are rising is going down,” the minister quickly said.

She then spent the next minute of the interview trying to clarify what was happening with inflation.

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