British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised more help for families struggling with rising prices and bills after the government’s budget update was criticised for failing to go far enough to protect living standards.
Talking to LBC radio on Thursday, Johnson said: “I think that the cost of living is the single-biggest thing we’re having to fix and we will fix it.”
In his half-yearly budget update on Wednesday, Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, said he will cut fuel duty by 5 pence a litre ($0.25 per gallon) for the next 12 months.
He raised the threshold at which people start paying national insurance contributions from July, and said the main rate of income tax will fall to 19 percent from 20 percent in 2024, when Britain is due to hold its next national election.
Johnson said the Chancellor had “done a huge amount to try to address the increases in the cost of living,” but added: “As we go forward, we need to do more.”
Later, speaking to reporters after landing in Brussels to attend the NATO summit, the prime minister said “global pressure on inflation” driven by supply chain pressure and the Russian invasion of Ukraine were causing problems.
“It will continue to be tough, continue to be choppy, but we will get through it and we will look after people throughout,” he said.
The comments came after Sunak was criticised for not having done enough to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis in his spring statement.
Richard Hughes, chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, said that despite the measures announced by Sunak, people still face an “unprecedented” fall in living standards.
He told BBC Radio 4 that the measures offset “around a third of the overall hit to living standards,” but “it’s still an unprecedented fall in people’s standard of living over the next 12 months.”
Lord Karan Bilimoria, president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said the income tax cut Sunak announced was needed now, not in two years’ time.
He also said that “this is not the time” to have the highest tax burden in 70 years and that “we’ve got a huge problem with confidence where business is concerned.”
Downing Street said ministers stood ready to provide further support to households if required.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We need to keep a close and watchful eye. As the Chancellor has said before, we are there to support the public when needed, as we have been throughout.”
“These are unprecedented times coming after the global pandemic and war in Europe,” he said.