Watch: Starmer on cost of living: Emergency action needed this week
Labour has piled further pressure on chancellor Rishi Sunak after it called for an emergency budget amid the cost of living crisis.
The party’s demand comes just four-and-a-half weeks after Sunak’s widely panned spring statement which had been designed to address spiralling bills across the country.
Sunak’s package of support included a £200 up-front rebate on energy bills from October – though this will have to be repaid over five years from 2023 – plus a £150 council tax rebate for homes in bands A to D effective this month.
However, this was widely criticised as not going far enough, and some restless Tory MPs have been calling for further measures such as removing the £153 “green levy” from energy bills.
Now, amid massive increases in food, energy and travel costs, Sunak will also have to face questions about an emergency budget as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused him of “failing to do anything” to address the additional demands on household budgets.
As part of his demands for an emergency budget - timed to coincide with the 1.25% increase in National Insurance which will be applied to workers’ payslips this week - Starmer has called for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits, which he said would help cut household bills by up to £600.
Starmer, referring to Sunak and Boris Johnson’s fines for attending a lockdown gathering in June 2020, said he and the prime minister have been “entirely preoccupied with saving their own skins, failing to do anything to address the spiralling cost of living”.
He added: “People are working hard and getting less. This week, most people will see their pay squeezed further by a pickpocketing chancellor [with the National Insurance rise] who is content for his family to pay less, but to tax you more.”
That is a reference to the scandal surrounding Sunak’s millionairess wife Akshata Murty’s non-dom status, which meant their family potentially saved tens of millions of pounds in taxes. This wasn’t illegal but in the wake of the row, Murty said she would pay taxes on her overseas income.
Sunak’s fine, cost of living troubles and his wife’s non-dom status have seen him fall from an apparent PM-in-waiting to one of the outsiders in the race to replace Johnson in the top job.