Sunak pledges no return to austerity as tax rises loom The Chancellor has said this Wednesday’s spending review will not usher in a return to austerity, rather there will be an increase in spending on public services. Rishi Sunak warned that forecasts revealed this week would lay bare “the scale of the economic shock” caused by the COVID-19 crisis with the economy “experiencing significant stress” with more to come. Although tax rises haven’t been explicitly mentioned, Treasury insiders admit there will have to be some “big” decisions on taxation ahead of a spring Budget. Mr Sunak hinted there could be a freeze on public sector pay saying any settlements would have to be considered fairly and in the context of what is happening with wages and employment across the economy. Unions reacted angrily at the prospect of a pay freeze with Frances O'Grady, head of the TUC refusing to rule out the possibility of strike action.