Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said there will be “hard choices” to come as he attempts to balance the books in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

In an online speech addressing Conservative party members, Sunak said he could not continue to “borrow our way out of a hole”, but promised the “overwhelming might of the British state” was to be used to help as many people as possible.

Sunak, who postponed the Autumn Budget until next spring due to the uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, hinted at possible tax rises to support the economy.

Between April and August 2020, the UK Government borrowed £173.7 billion to fund coronavirus-related support schemes, £146.9 billion more than the same period last year.

Total UK debt also passed £2 trillion for the first time in history in August 2020.

Sunak said:

“We have a responsibility to future generations to leave the public finances strong.

“If instead we argue there is no limit on what we can spend, that we can simply borrow our way out of any hole, what is the point in us? I have never pretended there is some easy cost-free answer. Hard choices are everywhere.”

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