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by Eleanor Langford and Louise Wilson
11 May 2022
Government insists

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during the State Opening of Parliament in the House of Lords (Alamy)

Government insists "money is finite" after Queen’s speech announced no new cost of living support

Downing Street has defended announcing no new measures to support those struggling amid the cost of living crisis in its Queen’s Speech on Tuesday.

Charities and thinktanks have heavily criticised the government for failing to do more to help households struggling with the cost of energy bills and the consequences of rising inflation, with some suggesting that ministers had “run out of ideas” and were simply “throwing in the towel”.

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson defended the government’s position, insisting that there was only a “finite” amount the government could offer in support, and that £22bn had already been allocated to help households with rising cost of living.

“The Prime Minister and Chancellor are very up front that no government can address all of these global pressures we're seeing,” they said. 

“The bills we're bringing forward focus on boosting economic growth for our country and create the conditions for more people to have high wage, high skilled jobs.”

They added: “It's important for the public to understand that our capacity to inject money is finite and we have to make some key decisions about how we use that funding.

Boris Johnson has also defended the government’s position, writing in his introduction to the government’s legislative agenda that “no country is immune and no government can realistically shield everyone from the impact”.

He said that “every pound of taxpayer’s money we spend on reducing bills now, it is a pound we are not investing in bringing down bills and prices over the longer term”.

But numerous charities and think tanks, as well as opposition parties, have criticised the government’s lack of additional measures.

“The cost-of-living crisis is an emergency the UK government should be dealing with right now,” said Dan Paskins, director of UK Impact at charity Save the Children.

“The Queen's Speech was a major opportunity to support those most affected by rising costs, and the government didn’t take it.”

“Families we work with are skipping meals, rationing their power and taking on unsustainable levels of debt. But again, instead of taking serious action ministers have buried their heads in the sand."

Save the Children said the government needed to “commit to increasing benefits in line with inflation” either before or at the autumn budget, calling it an “essential step”.

Their sentiments were echoed by Greenpeace, whose UK head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, said the Queen’s Speech showed the government was “throwing in the towel on some of the biggest challenges our country faces and pandering instead to the whims of his backbenchers”.

“There's not a single extra penny of support for households struggling with energy bills and no serious plan to fix our heat-wasting homes and get the country off fossil gas,” she said.

“Instead, the prime minister is trying to bring back police state measures to criminalise activists while threatening to scrap vital environmental protections along with so-called red tape.”

Speaking in the debate after Prince Charles delivered the address, Labour leader Keir Starmer warned of a "stagflation crisis" and called for a windfall tax.

He said: "A government of the moment would use the great powers they have to tackle this head on and bring forward an emergency Budget with a windfall tax for oil and gas producers which would raise billions - money that could be used to slash the cost of energy bills and help businesses keep their costs down."

The SNP's Ian Blackford labelled the speech a "missed opportunity". He added: "The most glaring omission in this Queen’s Speech is the complete lack of any immediate action to help people faced with the biggest inflationary crisis in 50 years. Democracy spoke last Thursday, but it is pretty evident that the Government have not listened and, certainly, given what we have seen today, that the Prime Minister has not learned."

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