Thousands of Brits face cost of living 'disaster': Labour hammers PM over soaring prices

5 January 2022, 17:40

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner hammered Boris Johnson over soaring energy prices on Wednesday, saying thousands of families face a "disaster" amid inflation and tax rises.

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Warning inflation was about to hit its highest levels since the 1990s, she said "household bills are going through the roof" with working families "picking up the tab" for the Prime Minister's "incompetence". 

"Prices for everyday goods are soaring out of control, hard-earned savings will be hit and the wages of working people won't go as far," she said. 

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She told the Commons "serious solutions" are needed to stop people "falling into poverty or debt" as a result of inflation.

She accused Mr Johnson of being someone who "always gives with one hand and takes away with the other", telling the Commons: "Under this Prime Minister the country is worse off."

Mr Johnson insisted the Government was taking steps to help people, defending its record on Universal Credit, increasing the minimum wage and support via the warm home discounts, winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.

He also denied saying fears about inflation were unfounded, although a clip from October showed him saying: "People have been worrying about inflation for a very long time... and those fears have been unfounded."

Ms Rayner, standing in for Sir Keir Starmer who has tested positive for Covid-19, had said: "In October the Prime Minister said that fears about inflation were unfounded, but working people across the country are starting the new year facing rising bills and ballooning prices, so how did he get it so wrong?"

Ms Rayner later told MPs: "The Prime Minister and his Chancellor have presided over economic mismanagement, low growth and neglect of our public services.

"And their resolution to fix this? Whacking more taxes on working people.

"Combine the tax rise with soaring energy prices and the average family faces a hit of £1,200 - this is an iceberg right ahead, so will he finally stop and change course... or will he plough on to what will be a disaster for thousands of families?"

She said: "Inflation is about to hit 6%, that's the highest rate since the early 90s when the Conservatives had been in power for over a decade.

"Marred in their sleaze, with a divided party, a Prime Minister losing the support of his backbenchers and governing shambolically."

She continued: "Every time we are faced with a challenge he denies there's a problem, he tries to laugh it off, he looks for someone else to blame".

Mr Johnson responded by insisting "there are now record numbers of people in work, 420,000 more than there were before the pandemic began” and “we have youth unemployment at a record low".

He said the Government had helped with Universal Credit and the minimum wage, and was also keeping "this country open... our economy moving".

"We will continue to look after people throughout the pandemic," he said.