SIMON WALKER HM TREASURY
A senior minister in the Treasury revealed he did not take part in the traditional Downing Street budget photographs this morning because he has agoraphobia.
Usually the chancellor poses up with his red box for the press and ministers appear by his side.
However, the chief secretary to the treasury Simon Clarke said his condition stopped him “being comfortable in some open spaces”.
Agoraphobia is a fear of being in situations where escape might be difficult or that help would not be available if things go wrong, according to the NHS.
Leon Neal via Getty Images
The MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, who attends the cabinet, tweeted: “Really looking forward to explaining the budget and spending review alongside the chancellor.
“I won’t be outside for the photos in Downing Street as I live with agoraphobia – which prevents me being comfortable in some open spaces – but will be busy in parliament and out in the country over the coming days.
“Today is all about a major moment for the UK and we have an important story to tell about investment in our public services and infrastructure, economic recovery, levelling up and net zero – those are the issues I’m proud to be discussing today.”
It comes as Rishi Sunak is set to unveil his heavily previewed budget and spending review to the house of commons on Wednesday afternoon.
Major measures already announced include an end to the public sector pay freeze and a rise in the national living wage. Fuel duty is also expected to be frozen in order to help with soaring petrol prices.
Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and Sunak are due to visit a brewery on Wednesday – suggesting cuts to alcohol duties are on the cards.
The chancellor is also tipped to slash the universal credit taper rate to allow people to keep more of what they earn.
Sunak is expected to be on his feet in the commons from 12.40pm when HuffPost UK will be taking you through all the major announcements.