Liz Truss has doubled down on her tax cutting plans (Alamy)
3 min read
The Tory leadership frontrunner has insisted she will push ahead with tax cuts, despite warnings it will do little to help the most vulnerable.
Writing for the Mail on SundayLiz Truss has insisted she would act on tax “from day one” by holding an emergency budget to reverse the National Insurance rise and suspend the green levy on energy bills in an effort to bring down household outgoings.
Both Truss and Rishi Sunak have faced criticism over their failure to outline concrete plans for providing further support to help with energy bills, which are now forecast to hit £4,200 next year.
Truss has come under particular pressure over her tax cutting plans, with charities and think tanks warning her strategy would fail to help the most vulnerable families – including pensioners and those on benefits – who already pay little to no tax.
But in a hint that she could u-turn on her previous pledge not to offer government “handouts”, she said she would “consider” further proposals currently being drawn up in government if elected Prime Minister.
She added: “That is the responsible thing to do rather than commit to action without knowing all the facts and options.”
And in an interview with The Sunday TelegraphSimon Clarke, the chief secretary to the Treasury, who is backing Truss’ campaign, claimed the £400 discount on energy bills set to come in October could be scrapped for “high earners”, freeing up more cash to help vulnerable families.
Clarke said it was “odd” that rich households would benefit from the rebate, following Sunak’s claim he would donate his £400 to charity and encouraged other wealthy families to do the same.
The comments come after a meeting between energy bosses and government ministers earlier this week ended without a firm strategy for bringing down energy costs, with a government spokesperson saying only that the two sides were committed to working together in the coming weeks.
Boris Johnson’s surprise presence at the meeting was seen as an effort to break the deadlock, but according to The Sunday TimesJohnson’s decision to attend came because he was “so bored” heading up a “zombie government”.
Johnson has already said he would not take any big policy decisions in the final weeks of his premiership, despite clamouring for action on energy costs.
One Treasury official told the paper: “The government doesn’t have a policy-making powers at the moment. Officials tried to stop the meeting but the political side forced it through. Nadhim [Zahawi] is just freelancing.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Keir Starmer has broken cover over his party’s plans for tackling the cost-of-living after facing accusations he was missing in action in recent weeks.
According to the ObserverStarmer is set to announce plans on Monday calling for the government to instruct energy regulator Ofgem to freeze the price cap at its current level of £1,971.
The paper reports that Labour had been weighing up the choice between freezing the price cap or introducing further direct support for families, with one party insider saying: “It seemed best to stop the rise happening in the first place”.
But pressure to take action ahead of the end of the Tory leadership contest in early September is continuing to rise, with a group of 70 major charities and other third-sector groups writing to Truss and Sunak to warn them the cost-of-living crisis is the “gravet issue our country faces”.
They added: “Many of our organisations work directly with these families and are becoming overwhelmed, too often unable to provide the support so desperately needed.
“This situation cannot be allowed to continue. As the prospective leaders of this country, we urge you to act now to demonstrate the compassion and leadership needed to tackle this issue head on.”
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