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‘Zombie government’ has made cost of living crisis worse for millions, experts warn

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Liz Truss resigned on Thursday triggering the second Tory leadership contest in four months. (PA)

A leading anti-fuel poverty campaign group has accused the Tories of abandoning vulnerable people to the cost of living crisis as they run a "zombie government paralysed by infighting and personal ambition".

Liz Truss's resignation on Thursday after just weeks in office has triggered the second Tory leadership contest in four months, with the victor set to be decided by Friday 28 October.

Tory MPs are now scrambling to find a successor who can govern the warring party, with previous leadership hopefuls Penny Mordaunt, current Leader of the House, and former chancellor Rishi Sunak, tipped as frontrunners.

It is also expected that former prime minister Boris Johnson will run again, despite stepping down last month, in an unexpected comeback likely to create further chaos in Conservative ranks.

Read more: Apologies, u-turns and sackings: 7 days of mini-budget chaos which ended Liz Truss's premiership

LONDON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 06: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson delivers a farewell address before his official resignation at Downing Street on September 6, 2022 in London, England. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is stepping down following the election of Liz Truss, the former foreign secretary, as Conservative Party leader. (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is reportedly flying back from a holiday in the Caribbean to announce his leadership bid. (Getty Images)

Read more: Liz Truss entitled to £115,000 a year despite only serving 45 days as PM

Simon Francis, co-ordinator at leading anti-fuel poverty campaign group End Fuel Poverty, has said the Conservative party's "infighting" was worsening the crisis for millions of people.

“Once again as the cost of living crisis bites hard, people are in the hands of a zombie government paralysed by infighting and personal ambition," he said.

Former British Chancellor of the Exchequer and Conservative leadership candidate Rishi Sunak leaves his home in London, Britain September 5, 2022. REUTERS/John Sibley
Former chancellor Rishi Sunak is expected to run as Tory leader again after being beaten by Liz Truss in September. (Reuters)

“The constant U-turns and paralysis in government has millions of victims: the people condemned to fuel poverty.

“Had we had a functioning government this year, the energy bills crisis would not have got out of hand and we wouldn’t be in a situation now where we have 7m homes in fuel poverty.

“People are now dreading the dark nights and cold weather. The NHS is at crisis point and will be unable to cope with the health impacts of people living in cold damp homes.

“We need to see an immediate £14bn package of support to help the most vulnerable stay warm this winter."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Yahoo News UK: "People are struggling to pay the bills and are facing soaring mortgage costs as a consequence of the Tory crisis made in Downing Street.

"We need a general election now so Labour can clear up this Tory economic mess.”

Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt arrives in Downing Street in London, ahead of a cabinet meeting. Picture date: Tuesday October 18, 2022.
Leader of the House Penny Mordaunt is also running to be Tory party leader again after coming third in the contest this summer. (PA)

The UK's spiralling cost of living crisis

The cost-of-living crisis in the UK continues to escalate. The latest stats show:

  • Inflation hit 10.1% in the 12 months to September, with food inflation hitting 14.6%

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found 31.9 million people, or 60% of UK adults, are estimated to be finding it a "heavy burden" or "somewhat of a burden" keeping up with bills

  • The FCA also estimate that 7.8 million people - almost one in six - are struggling to keep up with their bills, an increase of around 2.5 million people since 2020

  • One in seven people in the UK are skipping meals or going without food according to new data from the Trades Union Congress (TUC)

  • On Thursday leading food bank charity the Trussell Trust said a surge in demand means it has already used up its reserve stock, which would normally help maintain supplies across the winter months

Watch: Liz Truss’ 44 days in office in 44 seconds