Keir Starmer has said that he will set out a “comprehensive set of proposals” to combat the cost-of-living crisis on Monday after the government failed to agree support for households with energy company bosses this week.
Interviewed this afternoon, after analysts this week predicted that energy prices could rise to £3,500 in October before increasing to over £4,200 in January, the Labour leader promised that the opposition party would bring forward a “comprehensive, costed plan to deal with that’s coming in the autumn”.
He criticised the Conservative leadership candidates for “arguing with each other about just how appalling their record in government has been” and described Boris Johnson as a “lame duck” who “recognises there’s a problem and he’s not prepared to do anything about it”.
The Prime Minister admitted today that the planned cost-of-living support from the government, a £400-payment to households, is not enough following the latest estimates on how much the energy price cap will be raised in October.
But Johnson is refusing to set out any significant fiscal interventions in his remaining weeks in Downing Street, saying today that he is instead “making sure there is extra cash” for his successor to provide additional support.
Conservative leadership candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak have disagreed over how they would help families facing spiralling bills.
Truss has argued that the best way to do so is by cutting taxes. She was forced to U-turn after criticising the idea of making further support payments as “handouts” and rejected a call from Gordon Brown to hold crisis talks with her rival and the incumbent Prime Minister as “bizarre”.
The Foreign Secretary also defended the profits made by energy companies, saying that they are not “dirty and evil”, and said she “absolutely” does not support a windfall tax “because it’s a Labour idea and it’s all about bashing business”.
“Liz Truss is saying a windfall tax is a Labour idea. She’s right about that. We announced that back in January of this year and it took the government months to catch up with that,” Starmer argued this afternoon.
The then Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a windfall tax in May this year, although a mechanism in the levy allows companies to claim more than 90% relief on the tax as long as the reinvest the money in North Sea oil and gas. Labour has demanded that the government close what it called the “major tax loophole“.
Sunak has proposed specific payments for pensioners and people currently in receipt of benefits and to cut VAT on energy bills, something he rejected doing while Chancellor, promising to find an additional £10bn for the plan. Starmer highlighted today that his party called for a VAT cut “months and months ago”.
Labour announced this morning that it would scrap “outrageous” and “unfair” energy premiums that customers using prepayments meters face as the first part of a fuller package that the opposition party is expected to set out.
The Labour leader described this as a “very strong announcement”, which would help “the poorest people who are often using these prepayment meters”, adding that Labour will bring forward a “comprehensive, costed plan” on Monday.
Johnson, Nadhim Zahawi and Kwasi Kwarteng met with energy company bosses on Thursday afternoon. The Treasury revealed afterwards that the Chancellor and the energy firms had only agreed to “work closely” over the coming weeks to “ensure that the public, including vulnerable customers, are supported”.
The TUC has today demanded a “pandemic-scale intervention” after analysis from the trade union federation revealed that annual bills are expected to cost more than two months’ wages in 2023 unless the government takes action.
The research noted that average take-home pay is forecast to be £2,054 per month next year, according to the Bank of England, while the energy price cap is now expected to rise to more than £4,200 in January.
Labour leader Keir Starmer says Liz Truss is "right" to say a windfall tax is "a Labour idea" and says that there will be an announcement on Monday of "detailed plans" to deal with "what's coming in the autumn".https://t.co/yiDU6iEO2i
📺 Sky 501 and YouTube pic.twitter.com/6EqX0JJXz9
— Sky News (@SkyNews) August 12, 2022