If elected prime minister on Tuesday Liz Truss has pledged to release a strategy to address rising energy bills within a week. The poll-favored Tory leadership candidate promised to “act immediately” to help with bills as reported by sources.
However she did not provide any specifics stating that she required more time in the office to formulate concrete plans. Her opponent Rishi Sunak promised to give more money to the needy. On Monday one of the two candidates for Tory leadership will be named and the following day they will replace Boris Johnson in Downing Street.
In the face of mounting pressure they have detailed their plans to assist firms exempt from the domestic price cap and safeguard homes from rising utility costs. Ms. Truss the Foreign Secretary said that taking steps to reduce energy costs is “vital” for individuals and the economy in an interview.
The UK, she argued had grown too reliant on foreign energy pricing so more help would have to go “hand in hand” with a plan to increase domestic energy sources. Mr. Sunak suggested that in addition to the energy payments he announced as chancellor additional charges are made to retirees and the low-income.
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He has maintained that his proposed VAT reduction on energy prices will benefit everyone. Moreover he would not rule out the possibility of blackouts throughout the winter to limit supplies saying that the situation was “serious” and “every tool in the toolbox” would be needed.
“Of course we don’t want to be in that situation but I think it’s responsible not to rule it out,” he added. If elected, Ms. Truss has promised a £30 billion tax cut in an emergency Budget later this month including a rollback of the April increase to National Insurance.
Pressed on whether wealthier people would benefit more from the cut she said: “The people at the top of the income distribution pay more tax – so inevitably when you cut taxes you tend to benefit people who are more likely to pay tax.”
But she added: “To look at everything through the lens of redistribution I believe is wrong. Because what I’m about is growing the economy – and growing the economy benefits everybody. “The economic debate for the past 20 years has been dominated by discussions about distribution. And what’s happened is we’ve had relatively low growth”.
Although Mr. Sunak has recommended a reduction in the value-added tax that consumers pay on their energy bills he has taken a different tack by saying that permanent tax cuts should be postponed until inflation decreases.
Emily Thornberry the shadow attorney general for the Labour Party said it was “extraordinary” that neither candidate had provided a “specific answer” regarding their energy plans during the weeks-long leadership election.
She went on to say that people were “desperate” for assistance and that those with average earnings would have difficulty keeping up with the cost of living and the poor.
Price Freeze Plans
Along with the Liberal Democrats and the SNP her party has proposed compensating energy providers to sell gas and electricity below market rates during winter to keep consumer prices stable. The Liberal Democrats have promised to introduce a bill to Parliament next week detailing their strategy the bill will not be voted on but it may provide further information.
Ms. Truss said it would be improper to reveal the specifics of her strategy before her appointment so she would not comment on whether or not she might institute a pricing freeze. Nicola Sturgeon head of the Scottish National Party and the country’s first minister recently spoke on Sky News where she called on Ms. Truss to “cancel” planned energy price hikes and provide “substantial” aid to the business community.
On Monday at 12:30 BST, the Queen will formally pick Mr. Johnson’s successor who will take office on Tuesday. Instead of the usual award ceremony location of Buckingham Palace this year’s winner will make the trip to Scotland and attend the ceremony at Balmoral Castle.
It is believed that the move was made to avoid the need for any last-minute adjustments due to the Queen’s mobility concerns.
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