La pressione sale per Rishi Sunak: Leader aziendali, charities and former chancellor Lord Lamont all urge the minister to help under-fire families as financial guru Martin Lewis warns of ‘civil unrest’ amid surging food prices and inflation
Il Confederation of British Industry called on the Treasury to announce help for the ‘hardest hit’, while the Resolution Foundation said ministers should increase benefits and pensions as soon as possible.
Tory peer Lord Lamont, chancellor under Sir John Major, demanded an increase in Universal Credit to ease the pain for the most vulnerable.
And financial expert Martin Lewis warned of the risk of ‘civil unrest’ as the price of food spirals.
The pleas came as £43billion was wiped off the FTSE 100. The London stock market ended down 1.82 per cento o 135.35 punti, while there were also falls on Wall Street. Consumer-focused stocks were the worst hit.
Chancellor Mr Sunak is under pressure after inflation hit a 40-year high of nine per cent, with food and energy costs among the main concerns.
Leader aziendali, charities and former chancellor Lord Lamont lined up yesterday to urge Rishi Sunak to unveil a package of measures now to help families cope with the rising cost of living. The chancellor pictured at the Confederation of British Industry’s annual dinner on Thursday
But wrangling has continued within the Cabinet over the idea of using a windfall tax on oil and gas producers – who have benefited from high global prices – to fund measures to help with household bills.
It was reported that Boris Johnson was ‘intrinsically opposed’ to the levy, despite the Treasury being more open to the idea. But Downing Street insisted ‘the Prime Minister and the Chancellor are aligned’.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘You’ve heard them both say effectively the same thing when it comes to these sorts of taxes. We want to see significant investment by these sorts of companies into British jobs to grow the economy, to secure our energy supply for the long term.’
Mr Sunak appeared to acknowledge the need for further support for the poorest in a speech to the CBI on Wednesday night, detto: 'Proprio adesso, we have a collective responsibility to help the most vulnerable in our society.’
But he wants to avoid inflicting further damage on the public finances, which have already been battered by the billions pumped in to the Covid-19 pandemic response, or introducing any stimulus measures which could further increase inflation.
Lord Lamont called on ministers to restore the temporary Universal Credit increase – brought in during the pandemic – to ease the cost-of-living crisis for the most vulnerable.
Financial expert Martin Lewis, pictured on Good Morning Britain in March, warned of the risk of ‘civil unrest’ as the price of food spirals
He told BBC Radio 4’s World At One: ‘Although the Government has given considerable help already, I think it is clear that a further package will be necessary.
‘There is no way the Government can insulate the whole population from an external caused inflation, but… they ought to do something on Universal Credit, perhaps restore the temporary increase that was then withdrawn, also act on the warm homes discount and widen its scope.’
CBI director general Tony Danker told Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘Helping people with heating and eating bills will not fuel inflation.
‘You need to stimulate business investment now – that’s not going to overheat the economy. It’s going to make sure that any downturn in our fortunes is short and shallow because growth is coming soon.’
Tory peer Lord Lamont (nella foto a luglio 2005 at Westminster Abbey), chancellor under Sir John Major, demanded an increase in Universal Credit to ease the pain for the most vulnerable
The Chancellor is facing demands to increase benefits and pensions, which rose by 3.1 per cent in April, linked to the inflation rate of September last year, meaning they have fallen sharply behind inflation.
The Resolution Foundation think-tank said: ‘The Government has the power to support those hardest hit by bringing forward benefits uprating.’
Alison Garnham of Child Poverty Action Group Alison Garnham added: ‘As a minimum, benefits must be brought in line with inflation this autumn. The wellbeing and life chances of a generation of children are now on the line.’
Mr Lewis told ITV’s Peston: ‘I worry about civil unrest. So the Government needs to get a handle on it, and they need to get a handle on it quickly.
‘They need to stop people making choices of whether they feed themselves or feed their children.’
Labour has argued that a windfall tax could fund a VAT cut on energy bills and an increase in the warm home discount for those on a low income. The oil and gas industry has warned that unpredictable tax policies could deter investment and hit jobs.