Truss accused of U-turn by Sunak over help for households
Liz Truss vowed Wednesday to “do everything I can” to help households struggling with the cost of living, in a change of tone that her Tory leadership rival Rishi Sunak described as a “big turnaround in the country’s biggest problem facing the world.” “.
The Foreign Secretary has said she prefers tax cuts to “handouts” as the best way to ease inflationary surges and help people facing rising energy bills that could exceed £4,000 a year by next spring .
Her critics, led by former Chancellor Sunak, claim she is indifferent to the plight of the poor and pensioners, millions of whom pay no taxes. His team called it a “serious political and moral error of judgment”.
Martin Lewis, the consumer champion and founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, called for immediate government action to help households with rising energy bills. “This is a national crisis on the scale we saw during the pandemic,” he told the BBC.
On Wednesday, Truss released a statement saying, “I understand how difficult the rising cost of living is making the lives of many and if elected I will do everything I can to help families in difficulty.”
Truss told the Financial Times last week: “Of course I’m going to see what else can be done. But the way I would do things is in a conservative way to lower the tax burden, not to hand out alms. ”
She urged Wednesday that the first “port of call should always be to make people love their money more” and that tax cuts for individuals and businesses would help create economic growth.
Truss also continued to insist that people tax more and then give them their own money back — what her team Sunaks calls “socialist taxation and spending” — is not a conservative approach.
Simon Clarke, a finance minister and supporter of Truss, said officials were working out a series of options to deal with the energy crisis, which would be presented to the new Tory leader and prime minister on September 5.
Neither Truss nor Sunak has outlined exactly how they would tackle the problem, but the former chancellor has said he would pay hundreds of pounds directly to the poorest households.
“It’s all very well to say empty words about ‘doing everything you can’,” said a Sunak campaign spokesperson. “Taking action means providing direct support, which Truss has previously dismissed as ‘handouts’.”
Sunak told the BBC the next prime minister had “a moral responsibility” to help poorer households through the winter, saying he would rather lose the Tory leadership race than “win on a false promise”.
Last week, Truss was forced to quickly abandon a policy of cutting public sector wages outside London and South East England by nearly £9 billion. “Mistakes like this would cost the conservative party the next election,” said a Sunak employee.
However, Truss is seen by pollsters and bookmakers as the frontrunner in the Tory leadership contest – which will be decided by members of the Conservative party in a vote, with the result announced on September 5.
An Ipsos poll found that those who said Sunak would make a good prime minister fell from 38 percent to 32 percent in the second half of July. Truss’s figure remained stable at 30 percent.