RISHI Sunak insists the "number one priority" of his Spending Review is to create and support hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK with a multi-billion programme of investment.

As the Chancellor put the finishing touches to his set-piece Commons statement he was keen to accentuate the positive as it also expected to come under heavy fire for proposing a pay freeze on millions of public sector workers, a cut to overseas aid and measures that will hit the lowest paid and savers.

Mr Sunak will announce a new three-year £2.9bn Restart scheme to help one million unemployed people in their job search alongside £1.4bn of new funding to increase Job Centre Plus capacity.

There will also be the unveiling of a new “world-leading” counter-terrorist operations centre, bringing together intelligence agencies and senior police officers to disrupt terror threats to the UK.

Capital investment of tens of billions of pounds will aim to level up opportunity, drive growth and create jobs across the UK.

“My number one priority is to protect jobs and livelihoods across the UK,” declared the Chancellor.

“This Spending Review will ensure hundreds of thousands of jobs are supported and protected in the acute phase of this crisis and beyond with a multi-billion package of investment to ensure that no one is left without hope or opportunity.”

Mr Sunak will also confirm funding for the next stage of his Plan for Jobs, including £1.6bn for the Kickstart scheme in 2021/22, which will see the creation of up to 250,000 government-subsidised jobs for young people.

The apprenticeship hiring incentive that launched in August will also be extended to March 31, offering employers up to £2,000 for every new apprentice they hire.

There will also be a £375m package to support skills which includes £138m of new funding to deliver Boris Johnson’s Lifetime Skills Guarantee and £127m to continue the Plan for Jobs skills measures.

The centre-piece of the review will be capital investment, which will include the building of new roads, houses, railways and cycle lanes. This will support and create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the UK; the Prime Minster has already pledged up to 250,000 highly skilled green jobs as part of this ten-point plan for a green industrial revolution.

The Treasury pointed out the review followed nine months of “unprecedented support for businesses and individuals,” including helping to pay the wages of people in 9.6 million jobs across the country through the furlough scheme, now extended until March, and supporting the livelihoods of 2.6m self-employed workers.

However, the Chancellor has already come under fire on a number of fronts.

Ruth Davidson has become the latest senior political figure to warn against any plan to cut the UK's overseas aid budget.

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives said any such cut would be a “counterproductive choice; morally, economically and politically”.

Pressed several times on the subject, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, repeatedly refused to deny reports of a cut to the international aid budget.

Trade unions have already threatened strike action over the suggestion Mr Sunak will freeze pub;lic sector pay, NHS frontline staff excepted.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, told the Welsh Parliament: “Workers across our public services have continued to play their crucial roles in the midst of a global pandemic, helping save life and keep services running. They should be recognised for this effort and not forced to pick up the bill.”

As the Chancellor begins the slow process of increasing income, it is suggested a planned 5.6% increase to the national living wage – which was due to increase to £9.21 an hour in April – will be cut back to £8.90 an hour, a rise of 2%.

Another rumoured move is Mr Sunak will change the measure of inflation from the Retail Prices Index to the generally lower Consumer Prices Index plus housing costs, which will save the Treasury around £2bn a year but over time cost investors more than £100bn.

Alison Thewliss for the SNP accused Mr Sunak of pursuing all the wrong priorities with a return to austerity.

"The SNP has been clear that to deal with these challenges, the Chancellor must introduce a fiscal stimulus of at least £98bn and the devolution of financial powers, a package of meaningful measures to put money in people's pockets, and a major cash injection for the NHS and social care across the four UK nations.”

Matthew Fell, Chief Policy Director of the CBI, said: “The Chancellor has been tireless in his efforts to protect jobs throughout the crisis and, as the UK begins to eye a recovery in 2021, attention is rightly turning to how to create new jobs.

“The scarring effects of long-term unemployment are all too real, so the sooner more people can get back into work the better,” he added.