Ministers working on fresh cost-of-living support package to put to new PM

Clarke argued it is 'absolutely right' for the new leader to consider 'these options in the round' when they take the reins. Credit: PA

The government is working up a fresh package of cost-of-living support for the next prime minister to consider when they take office, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury Simon Clarke has said.

Clarke argued it is “absolutely right” for the new leader to consider “these options in the round” when they take the reins, suggesting they should steer clear of announcing “new uncosted policies” during the election period.

It comes after Tory leadership frontrunner Liz Truss – who has Mr Clarke’s support – hit out at “bizarre” proposals to agree help for rising energy bills with the government and her rival Rishi Sunak before the contest is over. Mr Sunak said he would welcome a meeting to agree emergency support ahead of the winter, but Ms Truss branded the proposal a “kangaroo committee” at Tuesday’s leadership hustings in Darlington.

Allies of Mr Sunak have played down the defection of one of his supporters Chris Skidmore as inevitable that "MPs change their mind during these contests", while former Tory Party leader Lord Howard said he agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s suggestion that Ms Truss’s tax-cutting plans would be an “electoral suicide note”.

Households are facing dire warnings that the energy price cap will soar from today’s £1,971 to around £3,582 in October, and then hit more than £4,200 in January. The increase threatens to cripple the finances of even those who are currently comfortably handling their bills.

With concerns mounting over the cost-of-living crisis, questions have been raised over any immediate cross-government action to tackle energy price hikes.

Leadership contender Liz Truss defends her tax-cutting solution to the energy crisis

On Wednesday, consumer champion Martin Lewis called on the two Conservative leadership candidates to set out how they will tackle the energy crisis to alleviate the “mental health damage” facing millions in the UK.

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng will ask gas and electricity company executives to submit a breakdown of expected profits and payouts as well as investment plans for the next three years.

Tony Danker, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), has said that the Prime Minister and the two contenders to replace him should “come together to agree a common pledge to support people and help quell fears”.

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