PM Admits Current Cost Of Living Measures Won’t “Be Enough” To Help Everyone
Eleanor Langford / Kevan James
May 4, 2022.
Boris Johnson has suggested that current government measures introduced to tackle the rising cost of living may not go far enough to “immediately” help every family.
In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain, the Prime Minister said the government was doing “everything we can to help with the pressures on family budgets” and that he “totally" understood what people were “going through”.
But he warned that “we need to be prudent in our approach”, claiming that there was a “severe” risk that inflation could “spiral” if prices were pushed too high. The PM also dismissed calls for a windfall tax on big energy companies to fund further measures, insisting that would discourage companies from investing in new energy infrastructure.
“What we're doing right now is helping people with the cost of energy with £9.1 billion that we have put in, with a £350 [council tax] support that we're giving,” the PM said. He added: “I accept those contributions from the taxpayer… [aren’t] going to be enough immediately to help cover everybody's costs.”
Asked why the government was not going further by increasing benefits and other supports, he said: “We have a short term hit caused by the spike in energy prices across the world.
“If we respond by driving up prices and costs across the board in this country, responding by the government stepping in and driving up inflation, that will hit everybody.
“That will mean that people's interest rates on their mortgages go up. The cost of borrowing goes up and we face an even worse problem," he added.
He continued: “We're already spending £83 billion a year to service the cost of government debt. That's huge. That's far more than we spend on defence, on many other budgets across Whitehall.
“It's a huge sum of money. And the risk is if we have an inflationary spiral of the kind that could be triggered.”
ITV presenter Susanna Reid gave the PM an example of a 77-year-old pensioner, Elsie, who had been forced to eat one meal a day after her energy bills increased from “£17 a month to £85 a month”. Asked what the government was doing to support her, Johnson replied: “What we want to do is make sure that we have people who are in particular hardship looked after by their councils.”
Johnson was also asked about his recent fine for attending a gathering in Downing Street while coronavirus restrictions were in place.
He said his December 2021 statement to the Commons, in which he claimed no rules had been broken at Downing Street, was "wrong", but insisted that he had "inadvertently" misled the House.
Pushed on whether he had lied in the past, the PM added: "I do my best to represent faithfully and accurately what I believe. Sometimes it's controversial, and sometimes it offends people, but that's what I do."
©Eleanor Langford / PoliticsHome
Just before last Christmas, the more aware among us will have noticed a rise in the price of most goods in supermarkets. The cost of eating was going up. Even before that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has suggested this would be the case. And of course, as our rapidly emptying bank accounts show, prices for everything always, always rise. Rarely - if ever- do they go back down. And the rise of 54% in energy costs is shattering.
That becomes a little hard for most people to take when the same old excuse is trotted out by the suppliers of things we need every day, that they 'have experienced a sharp rise in the cost of...etc'. We all know that wholesale prices rise. But we also know that such prices drop. Yet we never see what we, as consumers, have to pay - the retail price - go down.
This applies to everything, from fuel and energy, to food, to houses and homes. And the rise in the cost of heating and lighting those homes is extraordinary, unprecedented and utterly, utterly insane. Not to mention the cost of having a home, bought or rented, to start with.
The never-ending rises to the cost of merely staying alive and having somewhere to live is deranged. The same applies to the price of everything else and at some point - and sooner than one might think - money as we know it will become completely without meaning or purpose.
Governments must do a lot more to help people on the lowest incomes, including those on benefits and pensions. Otherwise they might as well let them die.
Perhaps politicians might realise the folly of present economics when it costs £1 million for a loaf of bread; when it costs more to dispose of the bodies of those who have died from starvation, frozen to death or simply given up living due to homelessness, than it does to keep people alive.
© Kevan James 2022