OVER the past few months I’ve met people from all walks of life – from right across the country – and I know the cost of living has been a big worry for many.
Energy bills have risen and inflation is set to go above nine per cent this year.
After almost two years of living through the pandemic, people are facing bills going up.
People are feeling like it’s a struggle to keep up.
I know Sun on Sunday readers have been concerned, maybe struggling to make ends meet, or to plan for the future given the uncertainty ahead.
Things have not been easy but just like in the pandemic, we are not going to let people face these challenges alone.
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That is why this week I announced £15billion of targeted support that will put money directly into the pockets of millions of people across the UK.
Eight million of the most vulnerable households in the UK will get support of £1,200 and all households will get £400 off their energy bills from October.
I firmly believe in helping the most vulnerable in our society.
That’s why this package of support is targeted to help the millions of people on the lowest incomes, pensioners and disabled people.
For eight million people on benefits, we are sending a one-off cost-of-living payment of £650 directly into your bank account.
The Department for Work and Pensions will make the payment in two lump sums, the first from July and the second in the autumn.
To ensure more than eight million pensioners are kept warm this winter we are sending an extra £300 to everyone getting the winter fuel payment.
And to help disabled people with the extra costs they will face, all disability claimants across the UK will receive a £150 disability cost-of-living payment.
On top of this, every single household will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
I have doubled the support being given to people. Not only that, but I am also adjusting the scheme so this payment is delivered as a grant, meaning you don’t have to repay a single penny of this money.
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This package is on top of the existing £22billion cost-of-living support which I set out earlier this year, including a council tax cut, a £330 tax cut for millions of workers through the National Insurance Contributions threshold increase in July and 5p cut to fuel duty.
Government support for the cost of living now totals more than £37billion this year.
That’s millions of people who are getting help from the UK government as we face this challenge together.
But no government can solve all problems.
Things will undoubtedly be tough for the next few months and largely because of the global problems that we face.
China is implementing new lockdowns and shutting factory doors, slowing down the production of new goods, impacting supply chains and pushing costs up.
Demand is going up rapidly across the globe as people come out of the pandemic, which is causing bottlenecks in our supply chains and making goods more expensive.
And the ongoing, barbaric conflict in Ukraine is continuing to have an effect on energy bills and food prices.
I’ve put in place support for people in the short term.
But we also need to think about the medium term.
One of the best ways we can help people is by growing the economy.
And that’s what my focus is now. In order to go for growth we need to prioritise three things: People, money and ideas.
Together with my cabinet colleagues, we have made a great start on all these things.
We’re providing businesses with the tools and ability to upskill their workers, we’ve provided record levels of investment to kick-start new business and job creation and we’re encouraging innovation. And there’s more to come.
I want to create the conditions that will boost growth and strengthen our economy and that is the best thing we can do to help people.
I’ll be spending my summer looking at all the ways we can do this.
I’m determined that we will turn this moment of difficulty into a springboard for economic renewal and growth.
We’ve got through the pandemic and I believe we can now get through this.
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And I hope the cost-of-living package we announced earlier this week will go some way in providing reassurance and help people sleep at night knowing they have some help.
When we said we’d be there, we meant it.