Liz Truss’ allies have insisted she is committed to helping families struggling with skyrocketing bills as Tory leadership candidates clash again over the cost of home crisis life.
Rishi Sunak launched a fresh attack on Ms Truss’ tax cut plan in an emergency budget describing it as a “big plug” for big business and the wealthy that would do little to help those who need it most over the coming winter.
However, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis – who backs the Foreign Secretary – said they would seek to do ‘everything we can’ to help people under the pressure of rising inflation .
Ms Truss’ side were forced on the defensive after suggesting at the weekend that there would be no ‘surrenders’ if they won the race for No 10 and that their priority was to reduce the burden tax.
Her supporters insisted her comments had been misinterpreted and that she was not ruling out additional direct support for families struggling with rising energy bills.
But Mr Sunak said his plan to scrap the National Insurance hike, which he introduced as Chancellor to fund the NHS and social care, would leave someone on the National Living Wage under 60 £ a year better while pensioners wouldn’t get a dime.
Writing in The Sun, he said his corporate tax cut proposal would do nothing to help small businesses and would simply put money back into the coffers of the biggest companies with the biggest profits.
With the Bank of England predicting inflation to hit 13% – with average household energy bills set to reach almost £4,000 – Mr Sunak said his rival’s measures ‘won’t hit the sides “.
“Families are facing a long and difficult winter with rising bills. Yet Liz’s plan to deal with this is to hit big business and the wealthy hard, leaving those who need help the most out in the cold,” he said.
“These tax cuts just won’t hit the sides. We need lucid realism, not blind boosterism. It means bolder action to protect people from the worst of winter.
Former Conservative party co-chair Oliver Dowden, who backs Mr Sunak, said while Ms Truss focused on tax cuts, the former chancellor accepted the need for ‘bold and significant interventions’ .
“We have to be realistic and honest with people about the scale of the challenge we face,” he told Sky News.
“Both with the scale of inflation coming in, something we haven’t seen in almost 40 years and with the fact that energy bills are going to go up, maybe up to 4,000 £.
“There is no doubt that we need a massive response to deal with this.”
However, Mr Lewis has defended Ms Truss’ approach, insisting she wants to put more money in people’s pockets.
“We will look to do everything we can to help people – that’s what an emergency budget is all about,” he told BBC Radio 4 Today.
“She’s willing to do more to help people, but her goal is to do it in a way that puts more money in people’s pockets, creating a high-growth economy with higher wages, more people. at work.
“So rather than having handouts, what we’re doing is having a low-tax economy that drives growth and so with people having more money in their pockets, they’re better off. to deal with some of the challenges that we see.”
Mr Lewis said it was still possible to offer tax cuts while dealing with inflation.
“We want to do both, we want to make sure we get inflation under control and you can — get inflation under control while putting more money in people’s pockets,” he told Times Radio.
“I think it’s a false premise to claim that you can’t deal with inflation while making sure people are better off at the same time.”