Spiralling energy bills have forced pensioners and some of the most vulnerable to effectively "hibernate" and cut back on daily essentials, reports ITV News Deputy Political Editor Anushka Asthana
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has admitted to ITV that his government could do more to help struggling families weather the cost-of-living crisis and the support currently in place won't be enough to help everyone.
He told Good Morning Britain that support of around £350 to help people deal with soaring prices "isn't going to be enough immediately to cover everybody's costs".
Asked by presenter Susanna Reid whether the government is doing enough to help people get through this tough period, Mr Johnson said: "There is more that we can do.
"But the crucial thing is to make sure we deal with the prices over the medium and long term."
More than £800 has been added to the cost of living for the average household since this time last year, due to tax rises and rocketing energy prices - made worse by sky-high inflation rates - and across the UK there are desperate stories of people struggling to get by.
PM responds to case of struggling pensioner Elsie
The PM was told of 77-year-old pensioner Elsie, who to manage her finances now eats only one meal a day and uses her free bus pass to ride the bus all day, rather than use energy by being at home - but his response raised eyebrows.
“Just to remind you that the 24 hour freedom bus pass was something that I introduced," he said, in a comment that immediately sparked anger on social media.
“Marvellous, so Elsie should be grateful to you for her bus pass!” Susanna said, while furious commentators on Twitter said the remark was "disgusting" and a demonstration of how "out of touch" the PM is with the realities of struggling people.
Another said his response was "mind-blowing" while countless tweets said the comment demonstrated Mr Johnson's lack of empathy for regular people.
Labour said his response shows "just how out of touch this narcissistic prime minister is".
Shadow work and pensions secretary Jon Ashworth said it is "utterly shameful" that people like Elsie are being forced to cut costs in that way, adding: "This will be a year of hell for Britain’s retirees."
Is the government doing enough to help people like Elsie? Anushka Asthana takes a look
Why is the PM not doing more to help those who are struggling? Will there be a windfall tax?
Asked why benefits are not going up in line with inflation and the PM said: “It could get worse. That knocks onto interest rates and that knocks onto the cost of borrowing for everybody.
“And I’m sorry to say this, but we have to be prudent in our approach. We have to help people like Elsie and the families you mentioned, in the short term with huge sums of taxpayers' cash, through the local councils or through the schemes we’re doing."
The PM also rejected calls from Labour and the Liberal Democrats to impose a windfall tax on the huge profits of oil and gas companies.
"If you put a windfall tax on the energy companies, what that means is that you discourage them from making the investments that we want to see that will, in the end, keep energy price prices lower for everybody."
And he resisted pressure to borrow in order to boost support, saying the government "stepping in and driving up inflation... will hit everybody".
"And that will mean that people's interest rates on their mortgages go up, the cost of borrowing goes up, and we face an even worse problem."
What's BP's response to a suggested windfall tax? ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills explains
PM admits UK could have acted faster to help Ukrainian refugees
The cost-of-living crisis has been exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which has driven up fuel and food prices, and sparked a new refugee crisis in Europe.
Mr Johnson admitted the UK could have done more to help those fleeing Ukraine early in the war, but said "large numbers" are now reaching Britain.
"So far, 86,000 visas have been issued and 27,000 are already here and I want to say, thank you - 27,000 is a lot and it's growing fast and I want to pay tribute to all those who are helping to look after Ukrainians," he said.
"Could we have done it faster? Yes, perhaps we could."
Asked why the UK is not offering visa-free travel to Ukrainians, Mr Johnson said in a wartime situation, some people might be "pretending" to be refugees.
When it was put to him that only a fraction of those who have applied for visas have arrived in the UK, Mr Johnson responded: "Quite a big fraction."
Prime Minister Johnson insisted he's 'honest' in response to partygate criticism
Mr Johnson resisted calls to resign over the partygate scandal and insisted he is honest, despite many people believing he lied about illegal, lockdown-breaking events on Downing Street during the pandemic.
For weeks he's been facing ongoing calls for his resignation from his own backbenches after police handed him a fixed penalty notice for attending a celebration for his birthday in No 10.
And he will soon be the subject of a Parliamentary investigation looking into whether he mislead MPs when he told the Commons that no laws were broken in Downing Street.
Asked whether he is honest, the PM said: "Yes. I think the best way to judge that is to look at what this government says it's going to do and what it does."
He added: "I do my best to represent faithfully and accurately what I believe, and sometimes it's controversial and sometimes it offends people, but that's what I do."
In response to a suggestion that some people believe he is a liar, Mr Johnson said: "If you are talking about the statements I've made in the House of Commons, I was inadvertently... I was wrong, and I've apologised for that."
Later he said: "I have apologised for the things we got wrong during the pandemic," as he was asked about breaking the law.
Asked why he should not resign, as Matt Hancock did as health secretary and Allegra Stratton did as Downing Street press secretary, the prime minister said: "I'm getting on with the job that I was elected to do and discharge the mandate that I was given and I'm proud of what we have been doing."
Mr Johnson - along with his wife Carrie Johnson and the Chancellor Rishi Sunak - were fined for breaking Covid laws last month.
MPs have since approved the Privileges Committee launching an inquiry once the police have finished their own investigation into the gatherings.
So far the police have announced they have issued at least 50 fines as part of their investigation.