‘I worry for working people’, says former Sun Editor on 10.1% Universal Credit rise

19 November 2022, 14:53 | Updated: 19 November 2022, 15:01

Andrew Castle and former Sun editor clash over Universal Credit

Melissa Fleur Afshar

By Melissa Fleur Afshar

As inflation hit a 41-year high, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt announced in his Autumn Statement that Universal Credit payments would rise by 10.1% in the next year, in alignment with the current economic landscape.

The Sun’s former editor, Kevin MacKenzie, spoke out on LBC of his “worry for working families”, and said he is “appalled” at the higher taxes which have been implemented to subsidise national welfare funds.

“There will be lots of middle-class people appalled by the fact that Universal Credit receivers will be getting 10% [payment] hikes funded by their hard work,” said Mr MacKenzie.

“I know an entire family who are on Universal Credit, they’re a shocking collection of idle thieves frankly. I’m not saying that everyone on Universal Credit is, I am saying that the family that I know are.”

LBC’s Andrew Castle clashed with the 76-year-old over the benefit payment rises unveiled in the Autumn Statement, and took to the defence of Universal Credit receivers.

“We are a country of welfare capitalism,” said Andrew Castle. “We do look after people, and that costs money!”

Mr MacKenzie responded: “We have gone way beyond all that, way beyond.”

READ MORE: The winners and losers of today's autumn budget announced by Jeremy Hunt

The heated discussion erupted from the pair's breakdown of the Autumn Statement, with Mr MacKenzie sharing on LBC his analysis of the Tory Party’s budget.

“The thing is a shocker”, said Mr MacKenzie.

“Everyone who I would describe as a natural Tory, and I am one, are absolutely gobsmacked by the fact that we are once again being torn asunder, our pay packets [are being used] to fund the Universal Credit of our country.”

The media executive, who headed The Sun and wrote for the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph, staunchly criticised the Conservative Party’s Autumn Statement which consisted of spending cuts and tax rises.

Mr MacKenzie argued that the policy decisions made would negatively impact “middle-class and working people”, and was not in line with traditional Conservative economic ideology.

“Hunt has absolutely no chance of being [re-elected as] an MP in 2024”, said Mr MacKenzie.

“They are splitting his constituency, and I am sure that the traditional Tories will be sitting on their hands!”

READ MORE: Millions of people to pay more tax as Chancellor plugs £55bn black hole with Autumn Statement

Mr MacKenzie also insinuated that the Prime Minister has kept changing his economic views in order to appease a changing electorate and socio-economic landscape.

“Rishi Sunak as Chancellor had one view,” he said. “Then he had another as he proposed to lead the Conservative Party, and he even had a third view when he got into Number 10!”