"No Plans" For New Cost-Of-Living Support Will Be Considered By Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson will not look at creating additional support for households as the cost-of-living crisis worsens, with Downing Street insisting that it is a matter for the new prime minister in September.
The government is under pressure to urgently take further action to support people through the cost of living crisis immediately, with energy bills continuing to rise and the Bank of England predicting that inflation will hit 13 per cent this year.
However, the Prime Minister's spokesperson said on Monday that convention prohibited Johnson from making "major fiscal interventions" and that it would be a matter for whoever is chosen as the new prime minister next month.
There are still four weeks to go in the Conservative party leadership contest, with final contenders Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak partaking in hustings around the country before the winner is announced on 5 September.
Johnson's spokesperson confirmed on Monday that the outgoing prime minister has "no plans" to either recall Parliament or hold talks with Truss and Sunak about the government creating more support while the Tory leadership contest is ongoing.
"You will understand that as per convention it is not for this Prime Minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for the future Prime Minister," the spokesperson said.
"While it's not for me [to say], you'll know that both candidates have talked about further support in varying means that they plan to introduce."
Johnson's spokesperson insisted it "would be inappropriate for me to say" whether the outgoing Prime Minister felt more support was needed.
They suggested that the current government, which has been described as a caretaker regime while Johnson's successor is chosen, does not need to take emergency action because the next big rises in household bills are not expected to take place until later this year.
The energy price cap, which is determined by industry regulator Ofgem, is expected to be lifted to around £3,359 in October, before rising again in January.
Johnson has been accused of leading a "zombie government" and been widely criticised for going on a two-week holiday while the country faces a growing economic crisis.
In remarks reported on Monday, the Prime Minister told media in Slovenia where he had been staying with wife, Carrie, that he had enjoyed an "absolutely wonderful time".
"We’ve climbed every available mountain, we’ve jumped in the lakes, we’ve been on bicycles.
“We’ve seen incredible things, huge caves and salamanders!”, he said.
His spokesperson insisted that it was "not unusual" for the Prime Minister and other government ministers "to take some time off during the summer recess".
They said that Johnson would this week meet with Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to discuss the ongoing challenges and pointed to support that government will roll out in the coming weeks.
"Several million payments for the first part of the £650 cost-of-living payments have been made," they said.
"In October, everyone will see £400 start to come off their energy bills in a phased way.
"Nearly one in 10 people will get a £150 disability payment and millions of pensioner households will receive an extra 300 pounds through their winter fuel payments in November and December."
They acknowledged that "global pressures" had "increased" since that support was first announced earlier in the year, but reiterated that it would be a breach of convention for an outgoing Prime Minister to announce a major economic policy before leaving Downing Street.
Rachel Reeves, Labour's Shadow Chancellor, said there was a power vaccuum at the heart of government and urged ministers to take action now.
“People are worried sick about how they’ll pay their bills and do their weekly food shop, and all this Tory prime minister does is shrug his shoulders," she said.
"An economic crisis like this requires strong leadership and urgent action – but instead we have a Tory party that's lost control and are stuck with two continuity candidates who can only offer more of the same.
“Labour would start by scrapping tax breaks on oil and gas producers and providing more help to people who are struggling to pay their energy bills. Only a Labour government can tackle this crisis and deliver the stronger, more-secure economy that Britain needs."
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