Cost-of-living crisis: Gove rules out emergency budget

Published by Scott Challinor on May 11th 2022, 2:02pm

The government’s levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has ruled out the prospect of the chancellor delivering an emergency budget to help address the current cost-of-living crisis.

Speaking on Tuesday during a debate on the contents of the Queen’s Speech, which included 38 bills and draft bills on the government’s agenda for the new session of Parliament, prime minister Boris Johnson said that the government would be “saying more” about how ministers planned to help households “in the days to come”.

Johnson’s remarks had triggered speculation that an emergency budget announcing new measures may be forthcoming, but Gove played down such talk as a case of media organisations “chasing their own tails” during an interview with BBC Breakfast on Wednesday.

Gove said that ministers were instead “looking at other ideas in order to ensure we relieve the pressure on people facing incredibly tough times.”

Gove explained: “That doesn't amount to an emergency budget... this is an example of some commentators chasing their own tails.”

This week’s Queen’s Speech has come under fire from opposition parties for not including any direct measures to help households with rising costs.

The BBC has quoted one of its sources within Downing Street as saying that measures such as changing the timeframe between MOT checks were being looked at to ease the financial burden on people in different ways, alongside other regulatory tweaks.

However, opposition MPs continue to call on the government to do more.

Labour shadow justice secretary, Steve Reed, suggested that chancellor Rishi Sunak could hold an emergency budget which would include a windfall tax on oil and gas firms on their record profits, which could then be used to subsidise household bills.

Reed also called on Sunak to “look again” at tax rises included in the Spring Statement.

While the next Budget will not take place until November, Gove pointed out that the government has already introduced measures to help households through council tax rebates, while the Queen’s Speech also included proposals to minimise rent hikes.

Gove also criticised opposition MPs for taking aim at government policies but not devising any “whizz-bang” ideas of their own to address rising costs.

Elsewhere, the National Institute for Economic and Social Research has suggested that ministers could up benefits payments by £25 per week and hand one-off payments of £250 to claimants within the poorer half of households.

The think tank has called for this after its recent research showed that another quarter of a million households could be plunged into poverty this year by the rising cost-of-living, meaning that more than one million UK residents will be left struggling to afford household essentials such as food, heating and water. 

Image taken from Wikimedia Commons

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Scott Challinor
Business Editor
May 11th 2022, 2:02pm

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