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Boris Johnson today hinted at action on childcare and food prices as he urged the Cabinet to find ways of tackling the cost-of-living crisis.
With just a week until crucial local elections and grim figures showing a quarter of Britons are struggling with bills, the PM gathered his team to thrash out ‘innovative’ ways of lowering the burden.
Mr Johnson will chair a special committee to finalise proposals, insisting people can be confident the government is still ‘on their side’.
However, Chancellor Rishi Sunak delivered a tough message that he will not be splashing the cash anytime soon to ease the pain. Instead he stressed the ‘large’ package of help already in place, ‘underlined the importance of not feeding in to further inflation rises and emphasised that the UK is currently spending £80billion servicing our debt’.
Official figures released yesterday suggested 23 per cent of Britons are having trouble meeting routing costs, while 87 per cent noticed prices rising last month – up 25 points since November.
But the government’s room for manoeuvre is being severely hampered by the fallout from Covid and the Ukraine war, with new data revealing interest payments on debt are soaring and borrowing has been higher than expected.
Boris Johnson (pictured out running today) ordered ministers to find ‘innovative’ ways to tackle spiralling prices of food and energy. But Chancellor Rishi Sunak (right) delivered a tough message that he will not be splashing the cash anytime soon to ease the pain
The OBR has predicted that Britons will suffer the biggest fall in living standards this year since records began in the 1950s
The headline CPI inflation rate is expected to spike in the coming months, with warnings it could even reach double figures
Downing Street said Mr Johnson told Cabinet that Britons were facing ‘real pressures’ but blamed external factors such as Russian president Vladimir Putin’s ‘crazed malevolence’ in Ukraine and lockdowns in China.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said Mr Johnson told ministers ‘there was more to do, including in areas like childcare, to further ease pressures for those who need it most and to get even more people into high-skilled, high-wage jobs’.
He declined to give more details about the plan, saying it was ‘live policy work taking place and I’m sure we’ll have more to say in the future’.
However, the spokesman conceded that Mr Sunak’s comments meant there will be no immediate new money to alleviate the crisis.
He told reporters: ‘Certainly, the budgets for departments are set and there are no plans to go outside what’s been agreed.’
It is understood the Government is looking at measures that could be introduced quickly rather than those requiring new legislation.
The spokesman said the committee was not new and its membership included the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay.
‘It will meet in the next couple of weeks, I don’t have an exact time frame for you’, he said when asked about the timing.
The ONS’s Opinions and Lifestyle Survey found that around nine in 10 adults (87%) reported an increase in the cost of living during March
Overall, 23% of adults found it very difficult or difficult to pay their usual household bills in the last month compared with a year ago
According to the ONS survey, 43% said they would not be able to save money in the next 12 months – the highest level since the question was first asked in March 2020
Labour has turned the screw by warning Britons are facing a £10billion hike in annual petrol and diesel costs, with ‘soaring’ prices putting the squeeze on working families.
The party reiterated its call for an emergency Budget to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, with a cut to energy bills funded by a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.
Source: Daily Mail