Rishi Sunak called Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis for tips before announcing a £15bn cost-of-living package.
The Chancellor reached out to the personal finance specialist in May, days before announcing £400 off all energy bills, £650 for people on benefits and £150 for the disabled this winter.
Mr Lewis had previously confirmed the conversation – but was asked about it in more detail today at the Future of Britain conference, hosted by the Tony Blair Institute.
“I spoke to him on the phone four days before,” he said. Asked who called who, Mr Lewis added: “He called me”.
Asked if it was “to ask you advice”, he replied: “He called me to see, I think his phrase was, what I’m feeling about stuff.”
It’s thought Rishi Sunak has reached out to the Money Saving Expert privately once or twice ahead of major events. The Chancellor believes Mr Lewis – whose advice is followed by millions – can point out loopholes or pitfalls in his plans.
Aside from this they also speak in other ways from time to time to make sure Mr Sunak is getting the Money Saving Expert’s views.
The campaigning finance expert has regular wider contact with the Treasury.
In the weeks before the announcement Mr Lewis gave outspoken warnings about the crisis heading for poor Brits’ pockets, with inflation and other costs soaring.
“I am virtually out of tools to help people now,” he said in March. “It’s not something money management can fix… We need political intervention.”
He gave some details about the call in the week it happened, saying on Channel 4 News at the time: “I talked about money for those on Universal Credit and legacy benefits, I talked about money for pensioners.
“And I was really vociferous about money for those with disabilities, many of whom have much bigger energy bills than everybody else because of having to have technology that ends to be on all the time.”
He added: “My to-do list has pretty much been done.”
Some critics branded Mr Lewis a “sell out” after he warmly accepted the action from the government.
But today the TV finance expert hit back, saying his calls to scrap a £200 repayable loan for energy bills and to give disabled people £150 were echoed in the final package.
“When you are a campaigner, when you ask for something and you get it, the right thing to do as I did on the day is to say well done, that is as good as we could expect, and thank you,” he said.
Mr Lewis demanded the Chancellor bring forward next April’s rise in Universal Credit and instead increase the benefit this week.
“I’d simply say move the inflation rate increase to Universal Credit tomorrow,” he said.