Chancellor faces calls for 'emergency budget' as cost of living crisis deepens

3 April 2022, 00:01

Rishi Sunak is facing calls to introduce more support for families as the cost of energy - amongst other things - surges
Rishi Sunak is facing calls to introduce more support for families as the cost of energy - amongst other things - surges. Picture: Alamy

By Daisy Stephens

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged to set out an emergency budget to help millions across the UK who face being "plunged into poverty and hardship" as a result of the cost of living crisis.

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SNP MP Alison Thewliss demanded action from the UK Government, as people across the country saw both energy bills and national insurance payments rise.

Ms Thewliss, the SNP's Treasury spokeswoman at Westminster, insisted the recent spring statement from Chancellor had been a "deliberate choice" by the Government to "ignore the Tory cost-of-living crisis brewing under its watch".

And she added that people could not wait until the budget in the autumn for help from ministers.

Ms Thewliss called on Mr Sunak to bring forward an emergency budget, saying this should convert the recent £200 loan announced to help people with rising energy bills into a "more generous grant".

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Conservative MP John Redwood also called for an 'emergency budget', saying Parliament should not go into recess while the crisis is still ongoing.

"Let's hope talk of an emergency budget to tackle the cost of living crisis leads to action," he said in a tweet.

"I'm ready to go to Parliament next week to help get it done.

"We should not be in recess with this outstanding."

'Don't you think people have thought of that?!'

The SNP also demanded the increase in national insurance contributions should be scrapped, and said the £20 uplift to Universal Credit should be reinstated.

VAT on energy bills should either be reduced or removed altogether, with the SNP also calling on the UK Government to follow the example of Scottish ministers and uprate benefit payments by 6 per cent.

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Labour too has proposed a package of "emergency" measures - including an immediate tax cut - to help ease the burden of rising costs on businesses.

The party claims that, under its plans, a typical small factory or workshop would save £2,700, a pub would be £2,600 better off, and the average cafe or restaurant would benefit to the tune of £2,700.

In the long term, Labour said it would scrap business rates and replace them with a system that supports "growth", which it claimed would be "fairer between the small high street businesses based on bricks and the global tech giants based on clicks".

'Either the government are incompetent or pure evil.'

Ms Thewliss hit out the Conservatives, saying: "The Chancellor and Prime Minister may be able to afford to go off on their recess break, sit on their hands and do nothing till the Autumn Budget, but ordinary people don't have that same luxury.

"In fact, many are having to make the difficult decision over whether they can afford to eat a meal or heat their home.

"Households are facing a triple whammy from the energy price hike from April, the rise in national insurance and the impending rise of energy prices in October.

"Unless the UK government acts, then millions face being plunged into poverty and hardship - and the blame will lie at the doors of the Prime Minister and Chancellor."

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The SNP MP continued: "The reality is that the spring statement wasn't just a missed opportunity, it was a deliberate political choice by the UK government to ignore the Tory cost-of-living crisis brewing under its watch.

"Warm words now won't heat up homes or food - only action will.

"The Chancellor must immediately return to Parliament with an Emergency Budget that finally puts money into people's pockets."

Energy poverty deaths will go 'through the roof' this year

A Government spokesman said: "We understand that people are struggling with the rising cost of living - we can't shield everyone from the global challenges we face but we're putting billions of pounds back into the pockets of hard-working families across the UK.

"We are taking action worth over £22 billion this financial year to help people with the cost of living and ensure they keep more of their money.

"We're increasing national insurance thresholds, saving a typical employee over £330 a year, we're boosting incomes by £1,000 on average for a full-time worker by increasing the National Living Wage and we're supporting households with their energy bills through our £200 rebate."