Ministers could make further announcements to tackle the cost of living crisis after the Cabinet meeting this week, the Welsh secretary has said.
The Prime Minister appeared to be rebuffed by the Treasury after hinting at future help for struggling households when he spoke of using the government’s ‘fiscal firepower’.
Boris Johnson, in his response to the Queen’s Speech, warned there were limits to the amount of public money he was willing to commit to tackle a global economic crisis.
But he told MPs: ‘We will continue to use all our ingenuity and compassion for as long as it takes.
“The Chancellor and I will say more about this in the coming days.”
The suggestion of immediate assistance appeared to be quickly watered down, with a No 10 source telling the PA news agency not to expect anything in the “coming days”.
The Treasury, asked about the Prime Minister’s comments, said the Chancellor said on Monday there would be ‘better clarity on energy prices in the fall’, apparently suggesting no further support will be forthcoming. granted before months.
But Welsh Secretary Simon Hart said the cost of living crisis was “now the most important challenge” in Britain that he and his Cabinet colleagues would discuss how to tackle this week.
Households are currently facing rising energy bills, inflation is expected to hit 10%, and benefits and wages are not keeping up with rising prices.
Mr Hart, pressed on what Mr Johnson had meant when he spoke in the Commons, told TalkTV’s The News Desk: ‘You’ll probably hear more on Thursday after the Cabinet meeting.
“This is now the biggest challenge facing not only this country, but also many other countries.
“It’s the thing that’s going to occupy every waking hour of every politician.
“And I also hope that with the support of opposition politicians, it’s too big to become a party political debate.
“We talked about it in Cabinet, we will talk about it in Cabinet again.”
Commons leader Mark Spencer told the BBC ministers were waging a ‘two-pronged attack’ to tackle rising prices, promising to invest in businesses and ‘deliver tax relief’ that the Chancellor has defined”.
After highlighting the £22billion government aid for energy bills, tax cuts and other measures already announced, he added: ‘There are also, I recognize, people who are still facing huge challenges and that’s why we have arms of support to help people through this terrible challenge.
The prime minister is due to travel to Sweden and Finland on Wednesday to discuss the Ukraine crisis, but will return on Thursday to chair a cabinet meeting abroad.
It comes as the government’s legislative plan, set out in the Queen’s Speech and read out by the Prince of Wales in the Queen’s absence, has come under attack.
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer called the response to cost-of-living demands ‘pathetic’ and accused the government of being ‘lack of leadership’.
He told Mr Johnson: ‘This government’s failure to grow the economy over a decade, combined with its inertia in the face of spiraling bills, means we’re looking at the barrel of something we don’t have not seen for decades, a crisis of stagflation. ”
Torsten Bell, chief executive of the Resolution Foundation think tank, said ministers had announced ‘nothing that could make a material difference’ to boost economic growth.
The former Labor adviser tweeted: ‘Nothing material today on the short term cost of living nightmare – the government has basically decided to wait until September (when we find out how much oil prices energy in winter will be bad).
“The pattern here is that aid is too slow, too small and poorly targeted.”
MPs are due to debate the contents of the Queen’s Speech on Wednesday, meaning there will be no questions to the Prime Minister.
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has confirmed that the House of Commons will debate crime prevention and justice on Wednesday.