Save us from the cost of living crisis Boris: Senior Tories increase pressure on PM to head off pain of soaring energy bills and tax rises – or face backlash at polls
Senior Tories last night warned Boris Johnson he will be punished at the polls unless he acts to tackle the cost of living crisis.
The Prime Minister will hold talks with his Chancellor this week amid a devastating squeeze on living standards, driven by soaring energy bills, rampant inflation and controversial tax rises.
Three select committee chairmen last night told the Daily Mail that failure to take decisive action could see support for the Conservatives collapse.
Their interventions came after Lord Frost, the former Brexit minister, told The Mail on Sunday that the PM risks losing the next election unless he returns to Tory values of ‘free markets, free debate and low taxes’.
Boris Johnson (right) and Rishi Sunak (left) are scrambling to find a way of easing the cost of living crisis
One senior Conservative said yesterday: ‘People are p***** off about parties in No 10 now but it will pass. What won’t pass is the anger people will feel when, far from being levelled up, they find their standard of living has been levelled down.’
Labour has unveiled its own proposals for tackling energy price rises, which include scrapping VAT on bills and introducing a windfall tax on North Sea oil producers. It claims the measures would save the average family £200, rising to £600 for those on low incomes.
‘What’s worrying is that Labour have got it – they have been raising this issue week in, week out for months, while we are nowhere,’ the senior Tory said yesterday, warning that failure to ‘get a grip’ will mean ‘potential disaster’ at the polls.
Lord Frost, who quit the Cabinet last month in protest at the political direction of the Government, has warned his former boss that failure to return to Tory principles could cost the PM at the ballot box
Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons culture committee, said last night: ‘Boris needs to wake up and listen to his party on energy and set a clear path out of the cost of living crisis. In the short-term, he needs to abolish the VAT on energy bills and get rid of the green taxes’
Backbenchers warned the Chancellor the 1.25 per cent national insurance rise coming into force in April would worsen the pressures on family finances
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi stressed yesterday that £4billion of targeted support had already been put in place this winter, including means-tested energy bill discounts and help for those on Universal Credit.
Despite this, millions of families on modest incomes face bearing the brunt themselves. A Whitehall source said the PM and Rishi Sunak were ‘nowhere near’ agreeing a solution.
Julian Knight, chairman of the Commons culture committee, said last night: ‘Boris needs to wake up and listen to his party on energy and set a clear path out of the cost of living crisis. In the short-term, he needs to abolish the VAT on energy bills and get rid of the green taxes.’
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence committee, said: ‘It’s now becoming a totemic domestic issue on how we are handling the economy’
Kantar revealed last month that the price of a typical Christmas dinner had risen 3.4 per cent in a year in 2021 – with the average cost of a festive meal for four, with a frozen turkey and all the trimmings, now standing at £27.48
Kantar data over the 12 weeks to Boxing Day 2021 shows the grocery market share of supermarket chains in Britain
Three weeks ago it was revealed that UK inflation had hit its highest level since September 2011 as supply chain disruption and record fuel prices sent the cost of living soaring. The Consumer Prices Index inflation was 5.1 per cent in November
A shopper walks through the fresh meat aisle in a Waitrose supermarket branch in South London last October. Retail analysts Kantar who say the cost of fresh beef is up by some 12.2 per cent on a year ago with fresh lamb up 9.5 per cent
Robert Halfon, chairman of the education committee, described the cost of living as the ‘number one issue facing the Prime Minister’.
The former minister said: ‘People voted for Boris because they believed their financial security and prosperity would be better – he has got to make it happen.’
Fed-up Tories turn to Rishi
Nearly half of Tory members believe Rishi Sunak would make a better leader and win more seats at the next election than Boris Johnson, a poll has found.
The YouGov survey for Sky News shows rising dissatisfaction with the Prime Minister following allegations about sleaze, with a third of the party’s membership thinking he should stand down as Conservative leader.Almost four in ten say they think he is doing a bad job.
Just 16 per cent of members say Mr Johnson would be more successful than Mr Sunak at the next general election.
He also called for the removal of VAT and green levies on energy bills, adding: ‘That would take hundreds of pounds off bills. No one is saying the environment is not important, but you can’t tackle it on the backs of families who can’t afford to heat their homes.’
Tobias Ellwood, chairman of the defence committee, said: ‘It’s now becoming a totemic domestic issue on how we are handling the economy and the Government is very conscious of this.
‘I hope the Chancellor will… provide both temporary and long-term solutions to both the cost and security of energy supply.’
The Bank of England expects inflation to hit 6 per cent by spring, while analysts have warned that the energy bill price cap could jump by more than £700 in April due to soaring global prices.
This would push average annual bills close to £2,000, with a VAT ‘windfall’ of almost £1billion for the Treasury.
April will also see the introduction of the new health and social care levy – which represents a manifesto-busting £12billion tax rise.
Downing Street has insisted this is needed to clear NHS waiting lists and, eventually, fund a new cap on care bills.
Rather than scrapping that levy, ministers are focused on energy bills.
One move under discussion is expanding the Warm Homes Discount Scheme, worth £140 a year to more than 2million low-income households.
Ministers are also discussing industry proposals for a £20billion loan scheme to help defer massive price rises.
However, the PM last week appeared to rule out scrapping the 5 per cent VAT on domestic fuel – once hailed as a potential benefit of Brexit. No 10 also rejected calls to suspend green levies, which amount to about 13 per cent of a typical bill.
|Price per kilo||Popular nominal size|
|12 w/e 27 Dec 20||12 w/e 26 Dec 21||I||12 w/e 27 Dec 20||12 w/e 26 Dec 21|
|Savoury snacks include ‘reformed potato’ crisps eg. Pringles, Hula Hoops and Doritos. Crisps are just the standard potato crisp which have been cut from potato and not reformed into another shape / form. Data provided by Kantar retail and consumer insight team.|
The boss of Greggs said he’s been forced to increase prices on some products due to the rising cost of ingredients and wages
A green Tory group has also urged ministers to help ease the cost of living crisis by shifting an environmental levy away from electricity bills and onto the Treasury
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves said: ‘The Prime Minister was the biggest advocate for cutting VAT on gas and electricity bills during the referendum.
‘But now when cutting those bills would make more difference than ever, the Prime Minister says no. Well, I say that bills can’t be paid on broken promises.’
Lord Frost, who quit the Cabinet last month in protest at the political direction of the Government, has warned his former boss that failure to return to Tory principles could cost the PM at the ballot box.
The former diplomat, who has been one of Mr Johnson’s closest allies, backed him personally but urged him to ‘trust his instincts a bit more’.
Families are hammered as new year food bills rocket
BY SEAN POULTER FOR THE DAILY MAIL
The prices of many household food essentials are rising at more than 10 per cent a year, fuelling the cost of living squeeze.
A tsunami of price increases on everything from beef and bread to milk, eggs and peas has been revealed in a survey for the Daily Mail. Industry analysts looking at five major supermarkets typically see around 2,700 increases in early January, but this year it is closer to 4,400.
Across all food retailers, almost 10,000 products have shot up in price over the new year.
Research by price tracking and retail analysts Assosia looking at a basket of common products found an average increase of 6 per cent in the past year.
For someone spending £430 a month on groceries, around the UK average, that adds up to an extra £25 a month.
Some of the increases on big-selling household name products are particularly startling.
The survey picked up an 18 per cent hike on a tin of Heinz baked beans and 12 per cent on beef mince, frozen peas and Jordans cereals. The increase was 11 per cent on supermarket-brand chocolate digestive biscuits, 9 per cent on milk, 8 per cent on eggs and 7 per cent on wholemeal bread.
The biggest hikes the survey found were 32 per cent on Stork baking spread and 22 per cent on Lurpak lighter blended butter and rapeseed.
Retail research has found that supermarket prices are soaring in the UK
Assosia director Kay Staniland said: ‘We have seen a huge rise in price increases in the last week to ten days.’
Some of the base rate prices identified in the survey may be mitigated with promotional reductions, but she warned: ‘Once those promotions stop, the increases will be felt.
‘Consumers are more used to shopping around for deals, but with the reality of higher transport, commodity and fuel costs impacting the food supply chain and grocery sector it is inevitable that costs will start to rise more rapidly,’ she added.
‘Staff shortages are also impacting the grocery sector, so maintaining a good supply chain is also critical during this period. It’s a little hard to see any winners in the current climate.’
Earlier this week, a survey from the British Retail Consortium put the annual rise in the cost of fresh food at 3 per cent, which is the highest rate in nine years.
Its chief executive, Helen Dickinson, said: ‘The trajectory for consumer prices is very clear: they will continue to rise, and at a faster rate.
‘Retailers can no longer absorb all the cost pressures arising from more expensive transportation, labour shortages, and rising commodity and global food prices. Consumers will already be harder pressed this year, with rising energy bills, the looming hike in national insurance and more expensive mortgages.
‘Government should relieve some of these costs by looking for long-term solutions for resolvable issues such as labour shortages.’
A supermarket price survey by Kantar has put grocery price inflation at 3.5 per cent. It reported a rise of 12.2 per cent on fresh beef, 9.5 per cent on fresh lamb, 11.4 per cent on savoury snacks and 9.4 per cent on crisps.