Clive Bull 1am - 4am
Boris hints parents could receive childcare support amid cost of living crisis
26 April 2022, 09:50 | Updated: 26 April 2022, 19:21
Boris Johnson has hinted parents could receive further childcare support as he seeks cost-free measures to alleviate the cost of living crisis.
Downing Street said the Prime Minister would sign off on new support when he chaired a "domestic and economic strategy committee" in the "coming weeks".
But No 10 suggested no new money would be provided in the coming months to ease the pain after Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned against rising public debt or inflation.
Ministers discussed "a number of ideas" at Cabinet on Tuesday after Mr Johnson asked them to bring "innovative" schemes to tackle soaring costs.
He accepted Brits were facing "real pressures" but blamed external factors such as Russian president Vladimir Putin's "crazed malevolence" in Ukraine and lockdowns in China.
The PM's official spokesman said Mr Johnson told ministers "there was more to do, including in areas like childcare, to further ease pressures for those who need it most and to get even more people into high-skilled, high-wage jobs".
He declined to give more details about the plan, saying it was "live policy work taking place and I'm sure we'll have more to say in the future".
Mr Sunak "underlined the importance of not feeding in to further inflation rises and emphasised that the UK is currently spending £80 billion servicing our debt", No 10 said.
This meant no new money to alleviate the crisis until a further financial announcement from the Chancellor, Mr Johnson's spokesman suggested.
He told reporters: "Certainly, the budgets for departments are set and there are no plans to go outside what's been agreed."
It was understood the Government was looking at measures that could be introduced quickly rather than those requiring new legislation.
The spokesman said the committee was not new and its membership included the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay.
"It will meet in the next couple of weeks, I don't have an exact time frame for you", he said when asked about the timing.
It comes after reports suggested plans to cut the cost of food that is not made in Britain, clothes and electronic goods had been mooted around Whitehall.
Mr Johnson said earlier: "With household bills and living costs rising in the face of global challenges, easing the burden on the British people and growing our economy must be a team effort across Cabinet.
"We have a strong package of financial support on offer, worth £22billion, and it's up to all of us to make sure that help is reaching the hardest-hit and hard-working families across the country.
"We will continue to do all that we can to support people without letting Government spending and debt spiral, while continuing to help Brits to find good jobs and earn more — no matter where they live."
His drive to find new ways of easing the cost of living comes as Brits endure soaring prices, driven by the post-Covid recovery and supply chain issues.
Among the most visible of these are huge prices at petrol stations and a shortage of cooking oil.
The Government has promised help for some bills but has been accused of not doing enough to help alleviate the squeeze.
The Sun said the PM believes he can use new measures available to him following Brexit.
Tariffs on food that cannot be made in the UK, like rice, could be slashed, as could tariffs on refined oil products.
Those charges are small but could see energy bills come down a bit.
Smartphones and tablets could also get cheaper, with red tape up for the chop that could allow parallel imports to the UK - a way of allowing goods to move to a country without the trademark owner's consent.
Some businesses have already cut prices.
Asda and Morrisons both announced they were slashing the cost of some products on their shelves in the face of competition from discount stores Aldi and Lidl.