“More needs to be done” on cost-of-living support, Government minister Matt Warman said, insisting it is “fair and sensible” for the new prime minister to “make the detailed plans that people need to see”.
His comments came as Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s camp said she will not finalise her plans for cost-of-living help before receiving the “full support and advice” only available to the government of the day.
The public will likely be forced to wait until next week to find out what help they will get with skyrocketing energy bills – with Ms Truss expected to replace outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson in Downing Street.
Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport minister Mr Warman, who is supporting Rishi Sunak in the two-way Tory leadership battle, spoke in favour of targeted support during the rising cost of living, acknowledging it “is going to affect people somewhat higher up the income scale as well”.
I do think it’s only fair and reasonable that someone who is going to take over in less than a week’s time has the right to say, ‘This is how I think is best to take the country forward through what are going to be immensely challenging times'
DCMS minister Matt Warman MP
He told Sky News: “Well, I think it’s obvious that the package that was put forward a few weeks ago was done in slightly different circumstances, and I think that’s why you’ve seen both leadership candidates lay out to some extent the fact that some more needs to be done, yes.”
On timing, Mr Warman added: “Well, it’s right, I think, when we have… a new prime minister due to be put in place on Monday, then it’s going to be for them to make the detailed plans that people need to see. I think that’s a fair and sensible process.”
He added: “That’s why he (Boris Johnson) and (Chancellor) Nadhim Zahawi have been working on what the options might be, but I do think it’s only fair and reasonable that someone who is going to take over in less than a week’s time has the right to say, ‘This is how I think is best to take the country forward through what are going to be immensely challenging times’.”
Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said the “massive increase” in the cap on energy bills “will plunge many, many households into financial distress” as she accused the Government of “fantasy economics” over the cost of living.
Asked about reports Ms Truss would support oil and gas drilling licences in the North Sea and if that is the answer, Ms Dodds told Times Radio: “No, it’s not, and the answer really is to be taking action to get the cost of those bills down.”
Addressing the cost-of-living crisis will rightly require the full support and advice that is only available to the government of the day
Liz Truss campaign source
She added: “We are only ever going to be setting out plans that we have fully costed and I’m afraid right now from the Conservatives we’re just getting fantasy economics.
“They’re not saying how they would deliver anything. They keep changing their plans every five minutes. That’s not the case with Labour.”
Andy Burnham said he does not support a movement calling on consumers to withhold payment for energy bills in protest against the rising cost of living.
The Greater Manchester Mayor told Sky News he understands why people are joining Don’t Pay UK but that “we have to live within the rule of law”.
A Liz Truss campaign source said: “Liz and her team are working to ensure that they are able to hit the ground running if she is elected prime minister.
“Access meetings with the Cabinet secretary have been offered to provide limited briefings to help prepare for forming an administration.
“But addressing the cost-of-living crisis will rightly require the full support and advice that is only available to the government of the day.”
Ms Truss’s team earlier said she is leaning towards targeted support over help for all, but maintained she is not “ruling anything out”, while it was also reported she is considering slashing VAT by 5% across the board.
Calls for the incoming prime minister to address rising costs are becoming increasingly urgent, with school leaders warning that without more funding children’s education would be damaged due to redundancies, larger classes and cuts to the curriculum.
Mr Zahawi said he has been working tirelessly to come up with proposals for either Tory leadership candidate for more cost-of-living support.
He is travelling to the US this week to seek co-operation on tackling the crisis with top bankers and US government officials, saying: “These global pressures must be overcome through global efforts.”
Regulator Ofgem warned the Government last week it must act urgently to “match the scale of the crisis we have before us” as Britain faced the bleak news that the average household’s yearly bill will rise 80% in October from £1,971 to £3,549.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, who is likely to be appointed Chancellor if Ms Truss enters No 10, and Brexit opportunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg, have been holding talks with oil and gas giants to secure energy supplies amid fears of shortages this winter, according to The Times.
The newspaper said Ms Truss would invite applications for drilling licences to explore new fields in the North Sea if she becomes prime minister, and push oil and gas firms to invest in their existing sites to maximise production.
Ms Truss and Mr Sunak will go head-to-head again in the final official hustings of the Tory leadership race on Wednesday.
The ballot of Conservative Party members closes on Friday, with the winner to be announced next Monday.