The chancellor has vowed to “always balance the books”, despite increased spending in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
In a speech to party members, Rishi Sunak said the Conservatives had a “sacred duty” to “leave the public finances strong”.
He vowed the use the “overwhelming might of the British state” to help people find new work.
But he said the response would have to be “pragmatic” as well as “creative”.
In an online speech during the Conservatives’ annual party conference, he said: “I won’t stop trying to find ways to support people and businesses.”
However, he added the party could not argue there was “no limit on what we can spend”, nor that “we can simply borrow our way out of any hole”.