Sunak to unveil ‘cost-of-living rescue package’ the day after Sue Gray publishes report

The Government is set to unveiled new plans to help people during the cost-of-living crisis the day after Sue Gray's report on Partygate is published.

Source > LBC

By Megan Hinton

25 May 2022, 00:23 | Updated: 25 May 2022, 00:28 BST

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is widely reported to be meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday to “sign off” on their “multibillion-pound” plan, with Thursday being the suggested date for an announcement.

Government sources said that no decisions have been made yet and the timing is yet to be confirmed.

It comes after Ofgem chief executive Jonathan Brearley told MPs the regulator is expecting the energy price cap to increase by a further £830 to £2,800 in October.

He said this was due to the market coping with “once-in-a-generation” price changes “not seen since the oil crisis of the 1970s”.

Reports have stated a new windfall tax on energy firms would be used to help those who are struggling – an option previously suggested by Labour and some senior Tories.

The Times said other measures which could be introduced include increases in the warm homes discount, winter fuel allowance and a cut in council tax, while a VAT cut is said to be being mooted.

The announcement is also reported to be going ahead as a way to take some of the heat off the Government following the publication of Ms Gray’s full report into partygate, which is expected on Wednesday.

It comes as Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat told LBC’s Andrew Marr that it is “very difficult to have any confidence in the Government” as new details emerge over Partygate.

But a Downing Street spokesman told the BBC he would “refute any suggestion” an announcement would be timed to distract from the report.

Last week, Mr Sunak gave a speech at the CBI annual dinner, where he said there is a “collective responsibility to help the most vulnerable in our society”.

Former Cabinet minister Robert Jenrick predicted an “intervention of some significance” from the Government within a fortnight.

He told LBC: “There’s reason for the Chancellor to act swiftly. He’s now armed with a guide from Ofgem as to where they’re likely to end up at the end of the summer.

“There’s reason to instil some confidence by setting out a clear plan now. That’s what the Chancellor has been mulling over.

A Government spokesperson said: “We understand that people are struggling with rising prices, and while we can’t shield everyone from the global challenges we face, we’re supporting British families to navigate the months ahead with a £22 billion package of support.

“That includes saving the typical employee over £330 a year through a tax cut in July, allowing people on Universal Credit to keep more of the money they earn – benefiting over a million families by around £1,000 a year, and providing millions of households with up to £350 each to help with rising energy bills.

“The Chancellor has been clear that as the situation evolves, our response will evolve – and we stand ready to do more.”

Adam Scorer, chief executive of National Energy Action, said the rise in price cap will “plunge households into deep, deep crisis”.

He said the announcement will “strike terror into the hearts of millions of people already unable to heat and power their homes”.

“The financial, social and health impacts are unthinkable,” he said.

“The UK Government simply must act and use the welfare system and schemes such as Warm Homes Discount to get significant financial support to people before winter.

“The ambition should be to find ways of covering the entire price increase for people on the lowest incomes.”

A new survey conducted in Scotland revealed a quarter of people are losing sleep over money worries.

The survey, Understanding Scotland, interviewed more than 2,000 adults about their finances and a total of 23% of respondents said they cannot sleep at night due to anxiety over the cost-of-living crisis.

This figure rises to three in 10 people in the most deprived areas of the country.

Three in five of those who took part said they are having to forgo heating, with more than a fifth having to skip or cut down on meals, the study said.

The survey also found 62% of those interviewed feel worse off than last year, and 59% think their finances will deteriorate.

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