Rishi Sunak has been branded “Mr Tax” by Labour, as they accused him of “acting in his own interest” rather than the British.
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Jon Ashworth gave Sunak the nickname and warned retirees have been “cutting back on hot meals” and “forgoing hot showers” because they can’t afford the cost.
Ashworth told Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Sky News: “Rishi Sunak absolutely had more wiggle room in this spring statement and mini-budget, but instead of acting in the interests of the British people, he was playing games.
He hopes that people will be grateful that in two years’ time he says there is going to be an income tax cut even though that income tax cut does not at all offset the 15 tax increases he has imposed on the British people.
“He was acting in his own interest because he thinks that by offering an income tax cut in two years it will help him politically with Conservative MPs if there is a leadership contest or that will fit into the Conservative constituency.
“I don’t think putting 1.3 million people in poverty because you’re imposing a very severe cut in real terms to universal credit, you’re imposing the biggest pension cut in 50 years, be fair.”
The government will increase benefits by 3.1% in April, although the inflation rate is expected to average nearly 8% for the year.
Ashworth said Sunak should have imposed a “windfall tax” on the profits of oil and gas companies to generate funds to help families and retirees struggling with energy bills.
He said: “He chose not to do that.
“Instead, he put in these very severe tax increases, these very severe cuts in real terms to pension and support like the universal credit, and he hopes that people will be grateful that two years from now he says there will be an income tax cut. rent. even though that income tax cut doesn’t make up for the 15 tax increases it has imposed on Brits at all, an extra £3,000 per household if you do a rough calculation and you’re good to go.
“It’s a chancellor raising taxes, it’s Mr Tax and it’s the British people who are paying the price.”
Treasury Secretary Simon Clarke told MPs that high inflation “will be reflected” in profit growth figures for April 2023, due to be calculated in September, if current forecasts hold.
But Ashworth suggested the government should have brought some of the increases forward instead of waiting until 2023.
He did not give an exact figure when pressed repeatedly on the BBC’s Sunday Morning about how much job benefits would have increased.
Mr Ashworth said: “Rachel Reeves, before the mini-budget last week, said the government should be looking at an increase in pension and an increase in support like the Universal Credit.
“Rishi Sunak refused to do that. I don’t know if it’s because he’s insensitive or incompetent, or maybe because he’s not going to honor that increased benefit and pension this September.”
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said it would be irresponsible to say “job done” by Sunak on the cost of living crisis.
He told the same program: “I think he will keep an eye on this, it is the right thing to do.
“It’s irresponsible of me to say ‘job done’ because energy prices are volatile, inflation is still high, so it would be absolutely irresponsible to say ‘job done.’
“But I think £22bn, in a year, of aid when you’ve just spent £400bn is the right thing to do.”