Liz Truss must 'deliver' on energy bills for homes and businesses, West Midlands mayor says
Prime Minister Liz Truss must "deliver" on energy bills to help homes and businesses, particularly those who are "hard pressed" in the West Midlands, says a Tory mayor.
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands, who backed Ms Truss during the leadership contest says she needs to "deliver" on her promises - and cutting taxes is "right" but will "not be sufficient" on its own.
Speaking on Tuesday at the future site of the Birmingham HS2 Interchange station, in Solihull, Mr Street said Ms Truss has made an "utter commitment" to levelling up in the region.
The newly appointed prime minister, however, ignored levelling-up in the midlands in her victory speech.
This is after winning the Tory party leadership contest on Monday, despite personal guarantees she has made to the mayor.
However given the current energy crisis, she said her priority is coming forward with "specific help over energy costs."
This, Mr Street said is "the most important thing to do. Particularly for the most hard pressed", referring to those in the West Midlands.
"Tax cuts will not address that head on," he continued, before adding: "We have to have specific help for energy bills."
Mr Street said: "Tax cuts are still right because it puts further spending power into everybody's pocket, but it is not sufficient on its own to deal with energy prices."
When asked why he backed Ms Truss, he explained: “I also believe in what she calls her plan for growth and we need it in this situation we’re in, to take some risks, frankly, in terms of investment and I do believe she will do that more bravely than Rishi (Sunak) would have done.”
The "risk" projects he is referring to includes funding into levelling up projects in the West Midlands such as HS2, the Midland Rail Hub and the Coventry gigafactory.
He said: “Seeing (HS2) through is critical, the Midland Rail Hub is critical, the Coventry gigafactory is very important, we’ve talked a lot about that, we’re got to get the Government to put the cash on the table then use that to win a private investor.
“The exact words she used around that was putting the full weight of Government behind that."
Levelling up the West Midlands
Mr Street also wanted to see “levelling-up zones” which he called “enterprise zones on steroids”, like the overhaul of Birmingham city centre’s Centenary Square, currently home to the Commonwealth Games bull.
“We’ve probably got the best example in the whole country of using that (enterprise zone money), so we’re pushing for more zones like that, and I want a breakthrough with the new Government on that idea within the next few weeks,” he said.
“She knows how to use the Government process to make stuff happen,” added Mr Street.
The West Midlands mayor backed Ms Truss’s premiership bid after spending an hour in private talks with her during the Commonwealth Games, after “pitching” the Midlands’ needs to both candidates, including leadership rival Rishi Sunak.
He said: “Before I signed up to support her I got her utter commitment to continue levelling-up; the Levelling Up Bill going through (Parliament) and a number of one-off investments in the West Midlands.
“She’s committed to the Midland Rail Hub, the Metro in the Black Country and she is committed to full support for the gigafactory in Coventry.”