Cost of Living: New package could be announced a day after Sue Gray report

Rishi Sunak

Measures could include a windfall tax (Picture: Getty)

A new financial package to help families hit by the cost of living crisis could be announced as early as tomorrow to take the sting out of Partygate, it has been reported.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak is due to meet the prime minister on Thursday to sign off on the new measures, which could include a new windfall tax, help with fuel bills and support for the most vulnerable.

According to Sky News, Boris Johnson is said to be keen to announce the multi-billion pound plan before MPs leave for the recess after Thursday.

But the timing will also raise questions following the release of Sue Gray’s bombshell account of Downing Street’s lockdown parties.

The explosive document included details of gatherings where officers drank sickly, sang karaoke, got involved in altercations and abused security and cleaning staff, at a time when millions of people across the country are not seeing friends and family could.

It also included nine new photos that shamed the Prime Minister and his friends as they party while thousands of people died in hospital with coronavirus.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures at 10 Downing Street during a meeting on the departure of a special adviser in London, Britain November 13, 2020 in this image, taken from the report by official Sue Gray published on May 25, 2022. Sue Gray Report / gov .uk/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO RESALE. NO ARCHIVES. MANDATORY CREDIT.

Spending package likely to lead to ‘dead cat’ allegations (Image: Reuters)

The report said the “senior leadership” in No. 10 must “take accountability” for the culture that led to repeated breaches of lockdown rules at a number of events in 2020 and 2021.

The Prime Minister, who said he was “humiliated” by the report, has been accused by the opposition of turning Downing Street into a “cesspool of arrogant narcissists”, while a quick YouGov poll shows 59% of the population supported his resignation want.

The expected spending announcement tomorrow is likely to spark accusations of a “dead cat” operation to deflect criticism from the country and its MPs.

The government has for months resisted calls to intervene in the cost of living crisis as rising bills, taxes and prices push millions of families out of poverty into misery.

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It had previously been expected that after the Queen’s platinum jubilee, no new measures would be announced until at least June.

The Prime Minister is said to be hoping this week’s announcement of the measures will take some of the sting out of Partygate, reports Sky and BBC.

Downing Street has denied using the spending plan as a distraction.

The expected acceleration of the bailout comes after Ofgem announced the energy price cap would rise again to £2,800 in October – an increase of more than £800.

The government is expected to argue that inflation and growth forecasts make delaying aid unwise when the measures are announced.

However, this is met with skepticism by the opposition.

During a bloody PMQs session today, Sir Keir Starmer told how the government has repeatedly rejected his party’s call for a windfall tax, rejecting the measure just a week ago.

He said, “What was it about the Sue Gray report that made him do a U-turn for the first time this week?”

Mr Johnson responded by saying the government would “do more” and ministers would “put our arms around the people of this country” – although he did not confirm what the measures would look like or when they might be announced.

It is understood the package has not yet been fully agreed and any disagreement between Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak over its content could delay it.

The pair are said to have conflicting visions on how best to help families in difficulty, with sticking points centering on the windfall tax and whether support should be aimed at those most vulnerable or be more universal.

Mr Johnson has reportedly invited a collection of economists with differing views to explore the options available to him.

Attitude towards a windfall tax has softened in his cabinet, although ministers have not fully endorsed the levy amid some fears it would delay investment.

A one-off tax on oil and gas company profits could be used to save families £600 this year, Labor says.

But last week Tory MPs rejected that plan, along with proposals for an emergency budget.

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Justin Scacco

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