Boris Johnson has been urged to bring forward an emergency Budget to help families cope with the cost of living crisis. The prime minister, opening the Queen's Speech debate in the Commons, said he and Chancellor Rishi Sunak would be "saying more" about help for households in the "coming days" - but Treasury sources ruled out any immediate fiscal relief.
There will be a full day's debate dedicated to the cost of living next Tuesday, but the speech is light on detail and only goes so far as to note the £22 billion in support already provided to households rather than spell out any new measures. Sir Keir Starmer, responding to the speech, said the government is “too out of touch” and “too tired” to make the changes the UK needs.
The Labour leader told the Commons: “Times are hard but they’re much tougher than they should be. "We need a Government of the moment with the ideas that meet the aspirations of the British public. This thin address bereft of ideas or purpose, without a guiding principle or a road map for delivery shows just how far this Government is from that – too out of touch to meet the challenges of the moment, too tired to grasp the opportunities of the future, their time has passed.”
He added: “A government of the moment would use the great powers that it has to tackle this head on. Bring forward an emergency budget, with a windfall tax for oil and gas producers which would raise billions, the money could be used to slash the cost of energy bills and help businesses keep their costs down.
"A Government of the moment would take a step back from the crisis and ensure that Britain is never again so vulnerable to a surge in international prices, forced to go cap in hand from dictator to dictator looking for a quick fix of imported oil.”
Mr Johnson pointed to the cost of the pandemic and global factors, such as the war in Ukraine, for surging energy costs.
The Prime Minister suggested that, after 2024, the Government will have “the fiscal firepower to help families up and down the country”.
He added: “The Chancellor and I will be saying more about this in the days to come. But at the same time as we help people, we need the legislative firepower to fix the underlying problems in energy supply, in housing, in infrastructure and in skills which are driving up costs for families across the country.
“And this Queen’s Speech takes those issues head on. And above all, we are tackling the economic challenges with the best solution of all and that is an ever growing number of high wage, high skill jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs.
“And we drive up employment by creating the right platform for business to invest, making our streets safer, 20,000 more police, creating a healthier population, 50,000 more nurses, funding the NHS to help them clear the Covid backlogs and giving the confidence that people know that they will be looked after in old age by fixing social care."
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