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Pay more tax, get less in return: this budget lays bare the bleak reality of Britain’s economy | Gaby Hinsliff

Jeremy Hunt didn’t mention that living standards may fall by 7% over the next two years, leaving many people treading water

Sometimes it feels as though you’re running ever faster just to stand still. No matter how hard you work or how careful you are with money, it’s never enough. Life feels more of an uphill struggle than it was, for reasons you can’t always identify, especially if you have in the past been comfortable enough. That feeling of treading water is already grimly familiar to many Britons and will shortly become familiar to an awful lot more.

What Jeremy Hunt didn’t spell out in today’s autumn statement was that living standards are forecast to fall by 7% over the next couple of years, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. Imagine turning the clock back to 2013, but not in a good way. Inflation will remain uncomfortably high well into next year, as protection from high energy bills is scaled back. Taxes will rise over the next six years via a stealthy freeze in the tax-free allowances applied to everything from earnings to inheritances and national insurance contributions, so over time a greater percentage of whatever you have is sucked into the taxman’s net.

Gaby Hinsliff is a Guardian columnist

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