Voters want government to get inflation under control before cutting tax, poll reveals

Results cast unfavourable shadow over plans of leadership contest frontrunner Liz Truss

Emily Atkinson
Monday 08 August 2022 11:01 BST
Oliver Dowden says Liz Truss' plans are 'not fit to deal with' scale of cost of living crisis

Two thirds of Britons think the government should prioritise tackling the soaring rate of inflation before introducing tax cuts, a poll has found.

Casting an unfavourable shadow over the plans of frontrunner Liz Truss, a YouGov poll found that 64 per cent of voters thought the next prime minister should first battle the rising cost of living, while 17 per cent favoured tax cuts.

The poll for The Times appears to stand in stark contrast to the beliefs of Conservative Party members, who will elect the next British leader.

An earlier poll revealed that 33 per cent of Tory members think tax cuts should be a priority – a number which rose to 46 per cent among Ms Truss’ backers.

It comes after the cost-of-living crisis was forced back under the leadership contest spotlight again by the foreign secretary’s remark that she would offer help by “lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts”.

Rival Rishi Sunak hit back at her comments, saying: “It’s simply wrong to rule out further direct support at this time as Liz Truss has done. And, what’s more, her tax proposals are not going to help very significantly people like pensioners or those on low incomes who are exactly the kind of families that are going to need help.”

And camp Truss was also forced to back away from her rejection of “handouts” amid growing calls for an emergency budget to help families facing a “financial timebomb” this winter.

It comes after a report commissioned by former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown found that families will be up to £1,600 worse off this year, even after existing government support of up to £1,200 per household has been paid out.

The report, carried out by Professor Donald Hirsch at Loughborough University, found that 13 million households – a fraction under half of the country – are at risk of fuel poverty after the next hike in the energy price cap to £3,700 or more in October.

“A financial timebomb will explode for families in October as the second round of fuel price rises in six months sends shockwaves through every household and pushes millions over the edge,” said Mr Brown.

If the prime minister and the contenders to replace him refused to put forward an emergency package, he said, “parliament should be recalled to force them to do so”.

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