Sunak hints more support to deal with cost of living squeeze could be on the way

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Rishi Sunak
Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said that he had always been 'very clear' that the government stood 'ready to do more'. Photo: Wiktor Szymanowicz/Future Publishing via Getty

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted on Monday that additional government support to deal with the cost of living crisis could be on the way.

It comes as Downing Street has said it is keeping "all options open" when it comes to addressing the squeeze on household finances.

Sunak suggested that he had always been "very clear" that the government stood "ready to do more" when required while speaking to BBC Look East in Ipswich, Suffolk.

"But what I have always said is, once we have better clarity on what energy prices will be in the autumn, then we will be in a position to know what the right response is," he added.

When the chancellor was asked whether he could level with people and say "the government can’t do everything to help you", Sunak said "the forces we are grappling with are global in nature" pointing out that Britain is not the only country facing higher energy prices or soaring inflation.

Read more: Cost of living squeeze hits 900,000 more households

“You know, we can do things to support people and we are going to do what we can to ease the burden. I wish I could make it completely go away, but I can’t," Sunak added.

"What I’m trying to do is make sure that we put policies in place that support families to help navigate the next few months, which we know will be challenging."

The price cap on energy bills went up again in April, soaring 54%, while a further rise is expected at Sunak's next budget review in October.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for prime minister Boris Johnson pointed to "significant support already available" when asked what the PM would say to Tory MPs demanding the income tax cut be brought forward, given the scale of the crisis this year.

On whether people would have to wait until the autumn budget before anything further was done, the spokesperson said Downing Street would "when it is the right time to do so — I don’t restrict that to a certain period in the year".

He added it was still against a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies, arguing this would "deter investment at a time we need it most, not least in renewable energy".

Read more: BP profits soar to highest in 10 years as calls grow for windfall tax

Calls for a windfall tax were renewed earlier this month after soaring oil and gas prices helped BP (BP.L) to record its highest quarterly profits in a decade.

It reported an underlying profit of $6.2bn (£4.9bn) for the first three months of this year compared to $2.6bn in the same period last year. The bumper earnings prompted calls for a one-off windfall tax on energy companies to help UK households with rising bills.

Shares in the FTSE 100 (^FTSE) oil giant fell 4.3% to 408.24p in afternoon trade on Monday in London.

Watch: Why are gas prices rising?

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