Cash-strapped Britain needs a ‘cost of living minister’, say backbench Tories | Politics | News

Inflation is expected to reach 10.25% by the end of the year and a further increase in gas and electricity bills is expected in October. Former Brexit minister David Jones has said Boris Johnson should consider appointing a minister to work across departments as a “champion for the ordinary people of this country”. He said: “Just as the Prime Minister has appointed a dedicated immunization minister to coordinate the response to Covid – another crisis of global proportions – so he should consider appointing a dedicated minister to coordinate the response to the price spike .

Last week, former work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb and education committee chairman Robert Halfon also made the case for a dedicated minister.

The proposal was backed by Dennis Reed of Silver Voices, which advocates for the over-60s.

He said: “It’s a very good idea as it would bring the UK’s attention to the issues we are currently facing. The cost of living crisis should be treated with the same sense of importance as the pandemic because of its impact on virtually everyone except the very wealthy.

Strong support came from Liverpool’s Lord Alton.

He said: ‘A cost-of-living minister could play a hugely important role in tackling the horrific challenges millions of Britons currently face in their daily lives.

He warned that soaring food and energy prices had left ‘many households in dire straits’, adding: ‘A minister with a cross-cutting mandate focusing the minds of all government departments on the impact of their cost of living policies would be a step in the right direction and make it a top priority across government.

Lord Woolley, the founding director of Operation Black Vote, said: ‘A cost-of-living minister is exactly what the nation needs at this time, as the government struggles to fully understand the often impossible lived experiences that too many families and individuals face in this present. fuel crisis.

Morgan Vine of the charity Independent Age pointed out that a cost of living minister would need the power to challenge the Treasury.

She said: ‘A minister dedicated to the cost of living could have the potential to push forward measures that mean older people don’t have to skip meals or ration their gas and electricity. But to really make a difference, the minister will need the political authority to challenge all departments, including the Treasury, to up their game, the ability to overcome financial and practical barriers to action, and the power to ensure that the voices of older people living in poverty are heard. heard.”

Lord Jones of Birmingham, former chief executive of the CBI, said the idea had “merit” but warned that “any perceived shortfall in delivery would be punished”.

He said: “Standing up to energy companies, banks and big retailers and reaching out to the consumer is a much-needed mandate, but it has to be outside the Treasury and has to be able to deliver results. Given the immense power of [the Treasury] the chosen person should have certain talents.

Liz McKean of War on Want warned that a “dedicated minister, while a good start, is no magic bullet” and called for action across government to ” tackle the shocking levels of structural poverty and inequality in this country.”

Gemma Hope of Leonard Cheshire, who helps people with disabilities lead independent lives, said: ‘A dedicated temporary minister to deal with this crisis is a good idea in principle – but only if it’s backed by political will and financial support to match . Currently this is lacking, and without it a dedicated role would be nothing but a signal of virtue.

Sam Tims, an economist at the New Economics Foundation, warned that “the poorest 25% of households are 10% worse off this year than last”, with the average cost of living rising by £2,300 in one year.

While he said a new ministerial post “could help”, he argued that the government had not yet “exhausted the political solutions that stared them in the face” and pushed for measures such as a exceptional tax on the profits of energy companies. He also said benefits should increase with inflation.

Former Labor leader Neil Kinnock did not back the appointment of a dedicated minister.

He said: “We have a cost of living crisis minister. His name is [Rishi] Altar.

“He raised taxes and national insurance, failed to cap energy bills [and] added to the costs with the Brexit bureaucracy.

“Having another Tory MP confront him would be a gimmick, not a strategy.”

Richard Tice, the leader of Reform UK – the successor to the Brexit Party – also argued that the country did not need a new minister but a “suitable and competent Chancellor”.

Matthew Patten of the Center for Social Justice said there was “only one person who can take control of the cost of living crisis” and that was the prime minister.

He said: ‘It can use the power and flexibility of Universal Credit, one of the most advanced social security systems in the world, to get more financial help to the poorest by making the system more responsive on the upside. energy prices while helping thousands better paid jobs.

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