Sunak says there is no fresh money for cost-of-living plans demanded by PM – Reuters News in France and abroad

Cabinet ministers are divided over ways to ease the cost of living crisis at no cost to the government, including calls to scrap green levies and a plan to cut MOT test intervals from one to two years .

Chancellor Rishi Sunak made it clear to ministers at a brainstorming session that there was no money available to fund programs to help struggling households.

There were clashes around the table, as Police Minister Kit Malthouse called for tax cuts to offset the damage caused by rising prices, and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng resisted Jacob Rees-Mogg’s demands to scrap levies which add £150 a year to average energy. invoice.

As the Tories take a beating in the local election campaign due to the impact of soaring inflation, Boris Johnson has called on every minister to come up with ideas to help put money back in scholarships and voters’ wallets.

He would be particularly keen to cut the cost of childcare, where prices have risen by a third over the past decade, from around £102 in 2012 to £137 now for an average weekly childcare place part-time for a child under two.

It is understood that the ideas presented at the meeting included a proposal first presented last fall, but so far not adopted, to increase the maximum number of children that can be cared for by each carer in a nursery.

Meanwhile, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reportedly proposed increasing the time between MOT technical checks from one to two years, cutting their cost in half.

Other ideas being explored are a reduction in tariffs on imports of foodstuffs that cannot be grown in the UK, such as rice.

The most promising ideas will be selected for possible implementation at a meeting “in the coming weeks”, which will be chaired by the Prime Minister and attended by his deputy, Dominic Raab, Mr Sunak, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay.

But the mooted cost-of-living package will not be ready in time to feature in the Queen’s Speech on May 10, when Mr Johnson sets out his legislative plans for the year ahead.

Speaking to his cabinet, Mr Johnson admitted Britons were facing “real pressures”, but blamed external factors such as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “crazy malevolence” in Ukraine and recent lockdowns linked to Covid in China.

Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer has said Britain needs “an emergency budget, not a cabinet meeting”.

“The cost of living crisis has been staring us in the face for six months now, and it’s a real problem for people struggling with their bills – and this morning’s cabinet meeting won’t change that,” he said. he declared.

Mr Johnson’s official spokesman declined to discuss the individual proposals, but told reporters it was “necessary to balance the amount of regulation and bureaucracy so that it is sufficient to ensure the protection of the public safety without imposing an undue burden on the public”.

But the National Day Nurseries Association said “tinkering” with the adult-to-child ratio – which varies by age, from 1:3 for under-twos to at least 1:8 for over-threes – was ” short-sighted” and would not achieve the desired result.

NDNA chief executive Purnima Tanuku said: “We risk putting additional pressure on an overstretched workforce while undermining efforts to give children the best start in life.”

After years of government underfunding for childcare places, around 95% of nurseries say they are not covering their costs and 85% are operating at a loss or just breaking even, she said.

“We want to see a government committed to improving opportunities for all children by investing in their early years when we know it has the greatest impact on their life chances,” Ms Tanuku said. “Instead, we seem to be talking about a race to the bottom that won’t help children or families, but will worsen the workforce crisis we have in the early years.”

Labor education spokeswoman Bridget Phillipson said the government had made high quality

childcare “increasingly unavailable and unaffordable”.

“Now the government’s solution is to reduce quality without making a difference to availability,” she said. Labour’s Children’s Recovery Plan would invest in the early years for children receiving free school meals and improve access to before and after school clubs.

“The Chancellor did not ensure the safety of the families. The Conservative government must draw up an emergency budget to tackle its cost of living crisis – and support Labour’s call to put money back in the pockets of working people.”

The Liberal Democrat education spokeswoman said Mr Johnson had not reacted to the “appetizing” rise in childcare costs.

She added: “Boris Johnson’s new plan is not to tackle this problem head-on, but rather to take shortcuts and put our children at risk. Their safety should be our number one priority, not just a cost-cutting measure.

“The government must tackle the crippling costs of childcare so that families get the support they need and can afford to return to work.”

AA road policy officer Jack Couzens told The Independent that Mr Shapps may find less regular MOT testing is not popular with drivers, after a poll for the motoring organization found a significant support for the one-year interval.

With the price of MOT charges capped at £54.85 and some providers offering them significantly cheaper, drivers are unlikely to feel a significant financial boost from the proposal, he stressed.

And he said: ‘In our poll, people supported the annual MOTs on the grounds that they ensure people keep their cars safe on the roads.

“I think people would rather feel relief at the gas pump than help with other car-related costs.

“Waiting any longer to MOT your car runs the risk of problems that would have been detected worsening another 12 months and potentially leading to higher costs on the next test or difficulties when driving.

Following their clash in the cabinet room, Mr Kwarteng took to Mr Rees-Mogg on Twitter, posting a graph showing that new solar and wind power are now four times cheaper than generating gas in the UK.

“The more clean and cheap electricity we generate at home, the less exposure we will have to high gasoline prices,” he said.

A source close to Mr Kwarteng declined to divulge details of the cabinet discussion, but said: “I don’t think anyone will be surprised that Kwasi has championed cheap, clean electricity generation in the UK instead. than burning foreign gas.

“Green energy is the cure for high prices, not the cause.”

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Sunak says there is no fresh money for cost-of-living plans demanded by PM – Reuters News in France and abroad