Tory MPs Are Struggling To Justify No New Cost Of Living Support To Worried Constituents
Backbenchers and ministers are receiving a barrage of emails from constituents desperate for financial help as the UK faces a spiraling cost of living crisis.
Pressure continues to mount on Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak to act further to support households after many have criticised measures introduced in the spring statement as insufficient.
A staffer for a Tory MP based in the north of England told PoliticsHome the cost-of-living crisis is “up there with issues we've had the most genuine emails about in terms of policy”.
Tory staffers have been privately complaining about being made to send “woeful responses” to constituents concerned with soaring bills.
“People are genuinely worried about not being able to feed their family and we’re giving responses that don’t address their concerns,” a Conservative staffer told PoliticsHome.
“The government needs to act now and make an announcement that will actually help people struggling,” they added.
“Comments about constituents working more hours are absolutely not helpful and only add fuel to the fire that Government ministers are hopelessly out of touch.”
Today the Commons will vote on a Labour amendment to the Queen’s speech calling for a windfall tax to be imposed on oil and gas companies who have seen profits soar due to the rising cost of energy. Labour would like to see funds received from a windfall tax redirected to to help ease energy bills.
Government has so far said it is opposed to introducing a windfall tax, which it describes as anti-business, but has not ruled out exploring the idea further in the future.
"The story of the last few months is crypto has crashed and so has the Chancellor," Shadow Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said during a debate on the policy in the Commons today.
"The value surge looked like the future but it's all turned out to be one giant ponzi scheme," he added.
Responding to Milliband, Sunak said he will be "pragmatic" about the issue and would like to see oil and gas companies should be reinvesting into jobs, growth and energy security.
"If that doesn't happen soon – and at a significant scale – then no option is off the table," the Chancellor said.
PoliticsHome knows of at least one Tory MP who is personally opposed to a windfall tax who has received multiple emails from constituents asking them to justify their opposition.
Some Conservatives have publicly expressed support for the policy, including select committee chairs Robert Halfon and Mel Stride. However, momentum for the idea in the party is incremental.
“More MPs are worried that government will force them to vote against Labour’s windfall tax amendment but then could end up U-turning and implementing it anyway,” a Conservative party source told PoliticsHome.
“MPs end up with the backlash and end up with the policy after all,” they added.
It is understood that there have been conversations in Downing Street about exploring a “tax-based” silver bullet policy to help further ease the cost-of-living crisis.
A Downing Street spokesperson said people can “expect there to be further announcements” relating to cost of living measures.
“There's a number of pieces of work going on related to departments across government,” they added.
A government spokesperson said: “The Chancellor and the Prime Minister have been clear that no action we take will completely shield people from the global challenges we are facing but the government will provide all the support it can.
“That’s why we’re already spending £22 billion on a range of measures including reductions for energy bills and targeted support for low income and vulnerable households.
“Ministers across government are exploring all options on how we can support people further and any policy initiatives will be announced in due course.”
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