RISHI Sunak has repeatedly refused to apologise to the country for the economic damage inflicted by Liz Truss’s disastrous mini-budget.

Instead the Prime Minister stuck to his formula that “mistakes were made”, without attributing them to anyone in particular, and would not say sorry for their impact.

He admitted the UK’s reputation had “taken a bit of a knock” of late.

The Resolution Foundation thinktank last week estimated September’s mini-budget, with its uncosted tax cuts and financial market turmoil, cost the country an avoidable £30billion.

It means Chancellor Jeremy Hunt needs to plug black hole around twice the size it might otherwise have been when he delivers his autumn statement on Thursday.

He has warned of spending cuts and more tax for all, antagonising many Tory MPs.

Acutely aware of how Tory infighting helped bring down his immediate predecessors, Mr Sunak went out of his way to avoid criticising Ms Truss in an interview with Sky News.

Speaking while in Bali for the G20 summit, the Prime Minister said there would be “difficult decisions that are required to fix” recent mistakes.

But he repeatedly refused to apologise for the Tories’ handling of the economy.

Pressed by Sky News Political Editor Beth Rigby, Mr Sunak merely said he had already acknowledged “mistakes were made”, adding: “What I want to do now is fix them”.

He said: “I think I demonstrated over the summer that I’m prepared to be honest with the country about the challenges we face and to make the difficult decisions that are required to fix them.”

He did not repeat the comments of his Chancellor that “we’re all going to be paying a bit more tax” but said the approach on Thursday will be “fair and compassionate”.

Asked if he wanted to say sorry to people with higher mortgages, inflation hikes or unable to sell their houses, he said: “What people grappling with inflation or indeed mortgages want to know is that we’ve got a plan that will limit the increase in mortgage rates, that will bring inflation down. I think people can be reassured  we will put a plan together that will do that.”

Mr Sunak also told BBC News: “The number one challenge we face is inflation. 

“We’re not alone in that, actually, for example, Germany and Italy have inflation that is even higher than ours at the moment.

“And it’s important that we get a grip of that, it’s important that we limit the increase in mortgage rates that people are experiencing. And the best way to do that is to get a grip of our borrowing levels and have our debt on a sustainable basis falling.”

The Office for National Statistics today reported a record gap between public sector and private sector wages rises - 2.2% and 6.6% respectively in the year to September.

The cost of living is driving public sector pay claims, with Mr Sunak’s premiership dogged by strikes, with nurses and civil servants preparing to join rail workers in taking action.

Asked about allowing the removal of the cap on bankers’ bonuses under Ms Truss to stay when most of the mini-budget was reversed, the PM urged restraint at the top. 

“Of course I would say to all executives to embrace pay restraint at a time like this and make sure they are also looking after all their workers,” he told ITV News.

He said the scale of food bank use in the UK was “obviously a tragedy”, adding: “I’ve got enormous admiration and gratitude for the people who are providing them in my constituency and elsewhere as well.

“But I do of course want to get to a position where no one needs to use a food bank.” 

Thursday’s budget is widely expected to raise finances through stealth taxes by freezing the rates in which workers begin paying higher rates of tax. Inflation and pay increases will mean more people being dragged into higher bands.

Mr Hunt is understood to be considering hiking the amount that local authorities south of the border can increase council tax by without holding referendums.

The threshold for when the top rate of income tax kicks in for the highest earners could be decreased from £150,000 to £125,000 in England and Wales.

Mr Hunt is expected to make the support plan for energy bills less generous from April, instead switching to more targeted measures in order to save the Treasury billions.

He is considering increasing the windfall tax on oil and gas giants from 25% to 35% while also expanding the levy to electricity generators.