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Rishi Sunak ‘will delay action to ease impact of soaring energy bills’ in Spring Statement next week
- Rishi Sunak is due to deliver a crucial Spring Statement to MPs later this month
- The Chancellor is expected to hold off on action to ease spiralling energy bills
- Speculation that Boris Johnson could visit Saudi Arabia this week for talks on oil
- West is pushing to wean itself off Russian supplies after the Ukraine invasion
Rishi Sunak is expected to hold off on major action to ease the impact of soaring energy bills in his Spring statement next week.
The Chancellor is under huge pressure to give more help to struggling families as the standoff with Russia sends costs spiralling.
Polls have suggested 40 per cent fear they might not be able to pay gas and electric bills if they keep going up.
But the Chancellor is understood to be resisting laying out another big package of help in his Spring statement later this month – with aides stressing that costs could change a lot by October when the price cap will change again.
Instead there is speculation he could focus on support for universal credit, while Boris Johnson could lay out a wider energy strategy as soon as this week.
The public finances have been hammered by Covid, and so far Mr Sunak has announced council tax rebates for many properties and a £200 loan to cut energy bills this Autumn.
However, the repayments are being added to bills over the following five years.
Rishi Sunak (left) is under huge pressure to give more help to struggling families as the standoff with Vladimir Putin (right) sends costs spiralling
Although Britain buys very small quantities of gas from Russia, it is still exposed to spiralling costs on the international wholesale markets
And shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said that the planned national insurance rise next month will ‘demolish any benefit’ from the bailout by costing the average worker £342 next year.
In contrast to the limited response in the UK, France and Ireland are among the countries that have brought in a temporary cut in fuel duty to save people money.
Meanwhile, Mr Johnson could visit Saudi Arabia this week pleading for action to help keep oil prices down amid the Ukraine crisis.
Rumours are swirling that the PM could head for the Kingdom in the coming days for a meeting with Mohammed bin Salman.
The crown prince is said to have snubbed a request from Joe Biden to have a call on the issue of oil supply, as the West tries to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels.
But Mr Johnson is believed to have a better relationship with bin Salman than the US President, whose links have been strained since the killing of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
The PM and crown prince discussed ‘energy cooperation’ on a call last month.
Any diplomatic mission by Mr Johnson would be highly controversial, especially as the Kingdom executed 81 people yesterday convicted of crimes ranging from killings to belonging to militant groups.
No10 stressed that no travel plans have been confirmed for the PM this week.
However, increase in Saudi production or releasing reserves could have a significant impact in keeping fuel prices down in the UK, which have been spiking amid the standoff with Russia.
There is speculation that Boris Johnson (left) could head for Saudi Arabia in the coming days for a meeting with Mohammed bin Salman (right)
Rishi Sunak is facing growing demands for action to ease the pressure on families as prices at the pump and energy bills rocket. Pictured, prices in Wimborne on Friday
Although Britain buys very small quantities from Moscow, it is still exposed to spiralling costs on the international wholesale markets.
Tory MPs have suggested that Mr Johnson could convince the Saudis to release more oil.
Andrew Murrison, who served as Mr Johnson’s Middle East minister until February 2020, told The Daily Telegraph last week: ‘The energy crunch means that jurisdictions are going to have to look further afield for continuity of supply…
‘The UK has always maintained a positive and constructive relationship with Saudi Arabia based on dialogue.’
The crown prince is said to have snubbed a request from Joe Biden (pictured) to have a call on the issue of oil supply, as the West tries to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels