Martin Lewis warns UK ministers are blaming cost-of-living crisis on Ukraine war

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Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis during a joint press conference with Facebook at the Facebook headquarters in London.
Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis pleaded for more government support. (PA)

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis has said he is worried the government is trying to blame the Ukraine war for the cost of living crisis.

Lewis criticised statements by various ministers saying Brits are willing to endure some hardships caused by sanctions on Russia in order to support the people of Ukraine.

He pointed out bills and inflation had already been soaring before the war began and the financial pressures facing millions of households had been only been exasperated by the situation in Ukraine.

He told BBC Radio 4: “It is a worsening of the situation – it is not the cause of the situation.”

"We are seeing what may be potentially a deliberate narrative shift that effectively says the entire cost of living crisis is due to Ukraine and therefore we all need to make sacrifices and that is not correct," he said.

Watch: Martin Lewis sends a message to every household earning less than £30k a year

Read more: Invading Russian troops 'will be dog food' insists defiant Ukrainian general

"What has happened in Ukraine has exacerbated the situation. But the rises in energy heating oil, water, council tax, broadband and mobiles, food, National Insurance were all in place before Ukraine."

He said: "We are going to see a real increase in genuine poverty in this country, millions of people being thrown into poverty."

Lewis added the only way to fix this is through "genuine political intervention" not further belt-tightening.

He urged the chancellor to use the spring statement to "nip this in the bud, let's not have people starving or freezing."

The cost of living crisis was high on the political agenda before the war in Ukraine began and is likely to rise back to the top amid warnings inflation could hit 8.25% in April, significantly higher than the Bank of England's forecast if 7.25%.

Sir Keir Starmer focused on the issue during PMQs on Wednesday.

Watch: Prime Minister must make Chancellor U-turn over energy bills, says Starmer

Read more: Brits 'should be handed £500 cash payment' to help with household bills, urges economist

Sir Keir warned that the £700 increase to typical energy bills will hit working families hard and called for a “windfall tax” on the profits of gas and oil firms to generate further funds to help.

Sir Keir said: “I don’t think the Prime Minister understands the mess he’s in. Working families are facing a £700 spike in April, they won’t even receive their £200 loan from the Chancellor until October.

“The wholesale price of oil and gas is now ballooning, so by October when the loan finally comes in household bills are set to shoot up by another £1,000. It’s a total mess.”

MAIDSTONE, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak during a visit to the Kent Oncology Centre at Maidstone Hospital in Kent on February 7, 2022 in Maidstone, United Kingdom. (Photo by Gareth Fuller - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is reportedly resistant to making any further chances to cost of living support. (PA)

Boris Johnson defended the government's plans, which will see all 28 million households in Britain given a £200 up-front rebate on their energy bills from October. This will be recouped by hiking bills by £40 per year over five years from 2023.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has also promised a £150 council tax rebate for homes in bands A to D..

Despite this, some reports have claimed the Cabinet is split over whether to do more to tackle the crisis.

The Politico website has reported Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wants to propose increasing the energy bills rebate (or loan) from the current £200 and delay when to start repayments, with Sunak reportedly opposed to this.

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