Cost of living crisis: Keir Starmer says he can save families £200 as gas bills soar

28 January 2022, 13:02 | Updated: 29 January 2022, 01:36

Sir Keir said he wanted to save some households up to £600
Sir Keir said he wanted to save some households up to £600. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Sir Keir Starmer believes he has a plan to save families £200 a year as Brits stare down the barrel of a cost of living crisis.

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The Labour leader looked to heap pressure on the embattled Prime Minister, who is desperately fighting for his job in the partygate scandal, by hammering home his call for scrapping VAT on energy bills.

Soaring gas prices mean the Ofgem price cap will go up again, as British households already contend with inflation and the incoming National Insurance hike.

Sir Keir, who was visiting Glasgow on Friday, said he wanted to see VAT on energy bills to go and and "targeted action to save most households around £200 a year, or up to £600 for those who need it most".

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He called on both the UK and Scottish Governments to intervene and said Conservatives in Westminster are too preoccupied with the Metropolitan Police's partygate investigation.

He added: "Boris Johnson and the Tories are scrambling to save their own skins, hopelessly distracted by a pending criminal investigation into their behaviour at Downing Street.

"Meanwhile, people across Scotland are worried about their bills, rising prices and how much it will cost to fill up the car next week."

Labour has criticised the National Insurance rise, which it has characterised as the wrong policy at the wrong time, while the Tories have defended it as necessary to pay for the NHS and social care.

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Labour also called on the Scottish Government to use Barnett formula funding to give out £70 to low-income pensioners and struggling families to top up the winter fuel payments.

Reports say Mr Johnson, amid his attempt to cling on to the keys to No10, is considering a VAT cut on energy bills despite signalling his opposition to such a move earlier in January.

"The argument is that it's a blunt instrument," he told a Downing Street press conference.

"And the difficulty is that you end up cutting bills for a lot of people who perhaps don't need the support in quite the direct way that we need to give it. We need to help people who are in fuel poverty the most."

On Thursday, he blamed a shortage of workers for helping compound cost of living woes.

Announcing a bid to get people on welfare into work, he said: "We're coming out of Covid now and it's a fantastic thing, but everybody can see the pressures on our economy, the shortage of skilled workers, particularly in hospitality, in retail, in road haulage.

"That's helping to push up prices, that's affecting the cost of living. It's affecting inflation."