23 May 2022 | NEWS

The Prime Minister has said that all options will be open in the struggle against the cost of living crisis.

Boris Johnson said today that “no option is off the table” in the battle to tackle the rising cost of living. His comments come amidst rising inflation and calls by the Opposition parties to impose a windfall tax on energy companies.

Windfall taxes are one-off taxes imposed by the Government. Calls have been made for the Government to introduce one following significantly increased profits made by energy companies, despite steep energy price rises for consumers.

Speaking during a visit to a school in south-east London, Mr Johnson said this option to deal with the cost-of-living crisis would be kept open, but stated that he was not “attracted” to more taxes. The PM stated: “No option is off the table, let’s be absolutely clear about that.

“I’m not attracted, intrinsically, to new taxes.”

He also highlighted the impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the current cost-of-living crisis, adding: “But as I have said throughout, we have got to do what we can – and we will – to look after people through the aftershocks of COVID, through the current pressures on energy prices that we are seeing post-COVID and with what’s going on in Russia, and we are going to put our arms round people, just as we did during the pandemic.”

When questioned by journalists, the PM stated that there would be further measures coming to help people who are struggling during the ongoing cost-of-living crisis, but added that they would have to wait: “Of course. This thing is going to go on.

“Everybody can see the increase in energy prices. There is more that we’re going to do. But you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer.”

The leader of the Labour Party, Sir Keir Starmer, renewed his support for a windfall tax on energy companies today. He told reporters: “Everybody I’ve spoken to has said that looks like a good plan, that £600 for those most in need would make a huge difference just at the moment.”

Paraphrasing an oft-used line by the Prime Minister in attacking the Opposition, he added: “So instead of dithering and delaying, the Government just needs to get on with it and help working families who are really really struggling with their bills at the moment.”

These comments also come following a rise to the highest inflation rates in forty years. It was announced that the inflation rate had hit 9% last week, which is the highest rate of inflation since 1982 and is increasing pressure on living standards in the UK.

Former Conversative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith, who is also a former Work and Pernsions Secretary, has also been critical of Treasury mandarins for dragging their feet over further measures to improve support for the poorest households, blaming its staff’s “groupthink” for the problem.

Other Tory backbenchers have also raised concerns that the current measures will not be adequate, including Bernard Jenkin, the MP for Harwich and North Essex. Mr Jenkin is calling for the £20 uplift to Universal Credit that was introduced during the pandemic to be restored, as part of a £13.5 billion package of measures he proposes to ease the current strain on living standards.

It is understood from Labour Party sources that a Government U-turn on the matter may yet be on the cards in the coming weeks.

Jonathan is a political reporter and commentator. His interests include philosophy and sociology.


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