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Tory leadership - live: Truss tax cuts would not help vulnerable pensioners, Sunak says

Former chancellor Rishi Sunak said he is ‘confident’ he can find extra funds for direct support

Gordon Brown says Liz Truss’ proposed tax cuts ‘don’t help people who need the help’

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Rishi Sunak said tax cuts proposed by his Tory leadership rival Liz Truss will not help vulnerable pensioners who will struggle to pay for heating this winter.

At hustings in Darlington, former chancellor Mr Sunak said he could offer hundreds of pounds extra for the “most vulnerable” people to pay their energy bills – in addition to support already pledged.

In a swipe at Ms Truss’ plans, he said tax cuts are “not much alone” for people living off pensions, adding that it was “wrong” for her to “rule out direct support”.

It comes after analysts warned that energy bills could exceed £4,200 in the new year as a result of Ofgem planning to lift the price cap once again, after a move to lift it to £3,582 in October.

Mr Sunak and foreign secretary Ms Truss – who are vying to succeed Boris Johnson as PM – have faced calls to spell out how they would ease the crisis at the event attended by Tory members.

Mr Sunak said he has “no doubt” extra support will be needed to get people through the winter, and he is “confident” he can find the money from government “efficiency savings”.


We are pausing our live updates for this evening, come back tomorrow for more coverage of the leadership race.

Katy Clifton9 August 2022 21:06

PM says successor will have ‘fiscal firepower’ to help people

Boris Johnson has declared he is “absolutely confident” that his successor as prime minister “will have the fiscal firepower and the headroom to continue to look after people”.

Speaking at a Downing Street reception on Tuesday, he said he is “certain” that whoever wins the Tory leadership election will want to make announcements about how they will “further help people” struggling to get by.

It comes as Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak took part in hustings on Tuesday evening in Darlington, where they spoke about their plans to help people amid the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Johnson was speaking to people he has given Points of Light awards, a scheme which recognises “outstanding individual volunteers”.

PM talking to Tony Hudgell at the Points of Light awards
PM talking to Tony Hudgell at the Points of Light awards (Peter Nicholls/PA)

Tony Hudgell, seven, who had to have both his legs amputated in 2017 as a result of abuse suffered at the hands of his birth parents, was among those honoured at the event.

Mr Johnson said that “whoever [his successor] may be” he is “absolutely certain” that they “will be wanting to make some more announcements” in autumn about financial help for people during the winter.

He added: “I just want you to know that I’m absolutely confident that we will have the fiscal firepower and the headroom to continue to continue to look after people as we’ve done throughout.”

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 21:03

Truss dodges question about Sunak and ‘Brownite economics’

Liz Truss has appeared to insinuate that her leadership Rishi Sunak’s economic plans were like those of former Labour PM Gordon Brown.

She repeated her economic pledges made earlier in the Darlington hustings, and went on to say that she would be against the idea of taxing people more and giving money back via “handouts”.

Truss talking about ‘pies’ when asked about ‘Gordon Brown economics’
Truss talking about ‘pies’ when asked about ‘Gordon Brown economics’ (YouTube/screengrab)

Ms Truss said: “The first thing we should do as Conservatives is help people have more of their own money.

“What I don’t support is taking money off people in tax, and then giving it back to them in handouts.

“That to me is Gordon Brown economics. Frankly, we had years of that under Labour and what we got was a slow-growth economy.”

Hustings host Tom Newton Dunn asked Ms Truss to answer “yes or no” to his question about whether she was likening Mr Sunak’s economic plans to those of Mr Brown.

She appeared to dodge the question by saying “I was actually responding to your question Tom,” adding that she wanted to “grow the pie” rather than “sharing out a fixed pie” via “handouts”.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 20:54

Sunak vows extra energy bill funds only for ‘most vulnerable’

Rishi Sunak has been asked about energy bills potentially rising above £4,000 a year by early 2023.

The former chancellor acknowledged that the situation is “really really serious” and that people “should be under no illusion about how difficult it’s going to be” during the winter.

Rishi Sunak talking to Darlington hustings host Tom Newton Dunn
Rishi Sunak talking to Darlington hustings host Tom Newton Dunn (YouTube/screengrab)

He said it’s the duty of a “compassionate” Conservative government to help people through the crisis but only pledged more “targeted support” for “the most vulnerable” who are on low incomes if he becomes prime minister that will be paid for by “efficiency savings”.

Tax cuts alone are not good enough for pensioners who will not benefit from such a policy, he said about his rival Liz Truss’ pledges.

Mr Sunak said everyone else – who he said could find the situation “manageable” as they are not on the lowest incomes – may be able to benefit through potential cuts to VAT on energy bills.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 20:21

Truss follows in Sunak’s footsteps in comment about self-ID

Liz Truss has pledged to “protect single-sex spaces” in what appears to be an attempt to out-do Rishi Sunak on his earlier comment about transgender self-identification.

She said: “I’m a straight-talking Yorkshire woman. I know that a woman is a woman.

“I can see that people in Darlington understand that. Believe me, there are some people in Whitehall that don’t.

“What I will make sure of is that our single-sex spaces are protected. That domestic violence shelters are protected, and that we are standing up for women’s rights.”

Earlier, her rival Mr Sunak said that he wants to “stand up to this leftie woke culture that seems to want to cancel our histories, our values, and our women.”

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 20:11

Liz Truss pledges to ‘expand Rwanda plan to more countries’

On migration, Liz Truss said that “appalling people traffickers are creating terrible illegal immigration across the English channel.”

She added: “I worked with Priti Patel on the Rwanda scheme, it is the right scheme.

“But we need to expand it to more countries and legislate so that the British bill of rights is not overruled by the ECHR and we are able to control our own borders.”

Her pledge was met with a long round of applause by the Tory members in the audience.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 20:03

Truss pledges lower NI, no green energy levies, and freeports

“Now is not the time for business as usual,” as the UK is more likely to fall into recession than countries such as France and Ireland – Liz Truss told Tory members in Darlington.

She said: “We need to do things differently. And that’s what I would do, have a bold plan for growth.”

Liz Truss at Darlington hustings
Liz Truss at Darlington hustings (YouTube/screengrab)

The foreign secretary’s ideas include getting EU laws “off the statute books by the end of 2023”, lowering taxes such as National Insurance, an “immediate moratorium on the green energy levy to cut people’s fuel bills”, keeping “corporation tax low”, and “low-tax enterprise zones” such as freeports.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 19:58

Liz Truss has now taken the stage.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 19:48

Sunak says ‘inflation is the enemy’ in jab toward Truss

Inflation is “the enemy”, said Rishi Sunak who pledged – while taking a dig at his rival Liz Truss – that he will “always help those who need help with the cost of living.”

He pledged to cut VAT on energy bills from the autumn, and said that he would “go further”. Earlier, it was reported that he hinted at additional support for Britons to pay their energy bills during the colder months.

At the hustings in Darlington, he said: “But what I won’t do is pursue policies that risk making inflation worse and last far longer – especially if those policies simply amount to borrowing tens and tens of billions of pounds, putting them on the country’s credit card and asking our kids and grandkids to pick up the tab.”

This is understood to be a jab toward Ms Truss, whose plans to cut tax had garnered criticism that her policies would see increased borrowing.

“It’s not responsible, and its certainly not conservative, he said before pledging to “responsibly” cut income and business tax.

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 19:45

Sunak says scenes of Channel crossings ‘unacceptable’

Rishi Sunak has pledged at the Darlington hustings that he wants to “finally get a grip” on small boats of migrants crossing the Channel.

He said: “For too long all of us have been watching on our TV screens scenes, that are simply unacceptable, of people coming here illegally.

“Now with my plan, under my leadership, we’ll finally get a grip on that situation, stop the boats, restore trust, and take back control of our borders.”

Lamiat Sabin9 August 2022 19:37

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