Boris Johnson admits ‘we need to do more’ to tackle cost-of-living crisis

PM’s comment follows intense criticism of Rishi Sunak’s spring statement for not going far enough

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Thursday 24 March 2022 10:04
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Boris Johnson has admitted “we need to do more” to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, as Rishi Sunak’s spring statement faces intense criticism for not going far enough.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) – the spending watchdog – said last night that Britons are set for the biggest fall in living standards in a single financial year since records began in 1956.

In an analysis published on Thursday, the Resolution Foundation also warned that 1.3 million, including 500,000 children, could be pushed into absolute poverty by the cost of the living squeeze.

Speaking less than 24 hours after Mr Sunak unveiled his spring statement in the Commons, the prime minister said the cost-of-living crunch “is the single biggest thing we’re having to fix”.

Mr Johnson acknowledged: “It will continue to be tough, it will continue to be chippy, but we will get through it and we will look after people throughout”.

He insisted the chancellor had done a “huge amount to address the increase in cost of living” and cited the announcement on cutting the national insurance contribution threshold.

However, he told LBC: “Yes… as we go forward, we need to do more.”

He added: “I’ll be bringing forward a British energy security strategy, which is intended to make good some of the mistakes of the last 25 years in which we haven’t really done enough to ensure that we have our own energy supplies, we need to go big on nuclear in this in this country.

“We need to go much bigger on offshore wind, we can make sure that by investing in energy production, domestic energy production, independent energy production, we can have sustainable, long term supplies and that will bring down the costs for consumers over the long term.”

The prime minister’s remarks came as the chancellor also hinted the government could intervene ahead of another expected hike in consumers’ energy bills in the autumn.

Asked whether the government would take action in that case, he told the BBC: “Yes, of course we’ll have to see where we are by the autumn and it’s right for people to recognise that they are protected between now and the autumn because of the price cap.”

Pressed on whether that meant yes, he will intervene before October, Mr Sunak said: “I always keep everything under review, and the Government, as it’s shown over the past two years, is always responsive to what’s happening.

“But I would say with energy prices, you know, they are very volatile, and I don’t think you, I or anyone else has any certainty about what will happen in October right now.”

On Wednesday, the chancellor also faced criticism from charities for the decision not to uprate benefits for the most vulnerable in line with inflation — which is expected to average 7.4 per cent over the next year.

The Trussell Trust foodbank group suggested the decision not to increase the “dangerously insufficient” levels of social security would mean more people have “no option but to use a food bank”.

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