£100,000 a year ‘doesn’t go far' in southwest Surrey - Chancellor defends claim

Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt leaves 11 Downing Street, London, with his ministerial box before delivering his Budget in the Houses of Parliament Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The Chancellor appeared to double down on his assertion that £100,000 a year is “not a huge salary” for people in his constituency after opposition critics accused him of being out of touch.

Jeremy Hunt said the money “doesn’t go as far as you might think” in south-west Surrey, but appeared to rule out a review of childcare funding to benefit higher-earning parents in this Parliament.

Mr Hunt was derided over the weekend for making the claim in a post on X about calls he had been making to residents as part of his work as an MP.

Asked whether he regretted the post, he told Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: “What sounds like a large salary – when you have house prices averaging around £670,000 in my area and you’ve got a mortgage and childcare costs – it doesn’t go as far as you might think.

The average house price in Godalming last year was £683,000, according to Rightmove

“We weren’t able to afford to fund childcare for people on the higher salaries but I was simply saying that’s something I’d love to be able to look at in the next parliament.”

The UK’s median gross annual salary for full-time employees was £34,963 in April 2023, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Labour said his claim revealed how “desperately out of touch” the Tory Government is with working people.

“The overwhelming majority of working people in this country would dream of earning that, yet they are all being made to pay the price of 14 years of Tory failure,” shadow paymaster general Jonathan Ashworth said.

“It is staggering for the Chancellor to complain about mortgage costs when it was the Conservatives who crashed the economy with their kamikaze budget and sent mortgage costs through the roof.”

Surrey county councillor Paul Follows, who is set to stand as the Liberal Democrat candidate against Mr Hunt in the seat of Godalming and Ash at the general election, said: “Perhaps this is the case when you are a multi-millionaire who can funnel £100,000-plus into his own campaign without breaking a sweat – but it’s a great deal more than the national or local average and a massive indicator as to why the cost-of-living crisis impacting residents across the country seems to have missed him totally.”

In his Budget earlier this month, Mr Hunt announced an increase in the threshold at which the high-income child benefit charge starts from £50,000 to £60,000 from April.

He also announced that partial child benefit would be paid where the highest earner has a salary of up to £80,000.

Working parents can receive free childcare for youngsters aged three and four.

To qualify, the majority must earn more than £8,670, but less than £100,000 per year under current rules.