Cabinet ministers are heading to Stoke-on-Trent for an away-day as Boris Johnson urged Whitehall departments to renew efforts to find ‘innovative’ ways to support Britons through the cost-of-living crisis.
Their visit to Staffordshire comes amid grim economic warnings as official figures showed the UK economy plunged into the red in March.
It has fuelled further fears of recession and Chancellor Rishi Sunak this morning admitted the country faces ‘anxious times’.
There is already huge pressure on Mr Sunak and his Treasury team to come up with another package of support for stuggling households.
The Chancellor today offered a strong hint that more help could come in August when the energy regulator once again updates the energy price cap.
But, despite the prospect of additional Government action to come this summer, it means Britons still face many more weeks without extra support.
Cabinet ministers are due to continue their discussions on other means of helping Britons through the cost-of-living crisis, after the PM’s call for ‘innovative’ solutions.
It emerged last month that one Cabinet brainstorming session saw ministers float ideas such as introducing looser childcare rules, allowing Britons to get an MOT for their cars only every two years, and pushing for tariff-free food imports.
But the suggestions also attracted claims that the Government is looking to address the cost-of-living crisis on the cheap, without extra spending.
Boris Johnson is taking his Cabinet ministers to Stoke-on-Trent to discuss the cost-of-living crisis in the wake of dire economic figures
Chancellor Rishi Sunak offered a strong hint that more help for Britons could come in August when the energy regulator once again updates the energy price cap
Ahead of the Stoke away-day, Downing Street said the PM had ‘called on Cabinet colleagues and departments to double down on exploring innovative ways to ease pressures on household finances’ as well as ‘promoting the support that is available but not widely taken up.’
Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was said to have raised the idea of allowing vehicles to be checked less often, potentially saving drivers hundreds of pounds.
Mr Johnson apparently asked for faster progress on reducing the required ratio between adults and children in childcare settings – something that could reduce costs.
Cutting tariffs on imports of food not produced in the UK was also thought to been suggested around the Cabinet table.
Cabinet ministers were also due to use their Stoke visit to discuss the Government’s new legislative agenda, as set out in this week’s Queen’s Speech.
The Parliamentary set-piece occasion drew criticism for failing to offer immediate support on the cost-of-living.
Last month, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was said to have raised the idea of allowing vehicles to be checked less often
The PM apparently asked for faster progress on reducing the required ratio between adults and children in childcare settings
Economic activity dipped 0.1 per cent month-on-month in March, with revised figures showing zero progress in February
Mr Sunak today reiterated that he would wait until the full impact of global energy price volatility is known, before acting.
With the war in Ukraine continuing to exacerbate the worldwide energy crisis, it is expected that Ofgem will announce in August another huge hike in gas and electricity bills as Britain heads into autumn and winter.
One energy boss this week predicted annual bills could soar close to £3,000 when an increased price cap comes into force from October.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said he ‘stands ready’ to do more to help households with their energy bills when the price cap is raised again.
‘I’ve always said I stand ready to do more as we learn more about the situation,’ he told Sky News.
‘On energy prices in particular, the price cap protects people for some months to come.
‘But I’ve said when we have a clearer picture about what happens with energy bills, we stand ready and I stand ready to support people further.’
The Financial Times reported Mr Sunak was looking to announce a major new support package in August.
Ahead of the Cabinet day-trip, Mr Johnson said: ‘I’m delighted to bring Cabinet to Stoke-on-Trent today – a city which is the beating heart of the ceramics industry and an example of the high skilled jobs that investment can bring to communities.
‘This government is getting on with delivering the people’s priorities and tackling the issues that matter most to the public.
‘This week we’ve set out how we’ll use new landmark legislation to grow our economy to address the cost of living, and level up opportunities for communities across the country.’