Boris Johnson rules out further cost of living help as it's matter for 'future prime minister'

No 10 says it is not the PM's role to intervene, as Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills reports

Boris Johnson has ruled out introducing emergency support to help families amid the spiralling cost of living crisis insisting it is a matter for a "future prime minister".

The outgoing PM, along with Tory leadership rivals Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, have faced increasing pressure to introduce cost of living measures now, instead of waiting another month for the new prime minister to take over.

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are among those calling on Mr Johnson to trigger an emergency government meeting to deal with the crisis.

It comes after the Bank of England's bleak announcement that inflation is set to rise above 13% in October, while another projection found that the energy price cap could rise to £3,358 annually from October, and could hit £3,615 from January.

But the official spokesman for Mr Johnson – who is back in No 10 following his summer holiday in Slovenia – said any further measures would be a matter for his successor once the Tory leadership contest concludes.

He added that Mr Johnson would be speaking to Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi to ensure that support measures due to come into effect later in the year remained on track.

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“The government recognised that the end of the year will present wider challenges with things like changes to the (energy) price cap,” the spokesman said.

“That is why, at the start of the summer, we introduced a number of measures to help the public. Clearly, some of the global pressures have increased since that was announced.

“By convention it is not for this Prime Minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for a future prime minister.”

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Former Prime Minister Mr Brown said earlier that the country cannot wait another four weeks for a new prime minister to be sworn in before households get the support they urgently need.

He urged Tory leadership hopefuls Mr Sunak and Ms Truss to get together with Mr Johnson this week, and urged the PM to trigger the UK Government’s emergency response committee to deal with the crisis.

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“If they don’t agree on anything else they should agree that emergency help is needed and so I think the help should be introduced and announced immediately," he said.

“And if they’re not going to do this, I think Parliament should be recalled.

“You see someone’s got to express the concern of the whole country about this.”

He highlighted the disparity in fuel poverty throughout the country.

"By January, 47% of households in London will be in fuel poverty, but it'll be 59% in the North East, the north west, Yorkshire, the West midlands, but it'll be 62% in Scotland and Wales and then 72% in Northern Ireland," he said.

"These are figures that we've never seen before. It shows that this is the biggest cut in standards of living for 50 years."

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Scotland’s First Minister also on Monday called for an urgent meeting between the heads of the devolved administrations to address the cost-of-living crisis.

In a letter sent on Monday, Ms Sturgeon urged the Mr Johnson to move a proposed meeting between the heads of the UK’s governments from September to this week.

Many of the “levers of government” required to tackle the issue remain reserved to Westminster, the first minister said in her letter, adding that actions taken by devolved administrations “will not be enough”.

Nicola Sturgeon said the devolved nations can't properly help struggling families without Westminster introducing further support. Credit: PA

“You suggested a first meeting of the Heads of Government Council to take place in September,” the First Minister wrote.

“However, as I am sure you must recognise, the situation is fast deteriorating and many people across the UK simply cannot afford to wait until September for further action to be taken.

“I am therefore writing to seek an emergency meeting of the Heads of Government Council and propose that we, as leaders of our respective Governments, meet as soon as possible this week to discuss and agree urgent steps to help those in most need now, and also formulate a plan of action for the autumn and winter ahead.”

She added: “The current crisis requires clear, focused and determined leadership and co-operation to develop and deliver – at pace – a package of interventions to protect those most impacted.”

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The government was also warned by business leaders that it must have “all hands to the pump” to address the crisis ahead of the autumn.

Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), joined former prime minister Gordon Brown’s call for swift intervention to address rising energy costs.

Mr Danker said: “We simply cannot afford a summer of government inactivity while the leadership contest plays out followed by a slow start from a new prime minister and cabinet.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor should be taking the next few weeks to grip the emerging crisis and the planning required to tackle it. This will also give their successor – whomever that may be – the very best chance of getting quickly out of the blocks.”