Sunak attacks Truss’s tax plans as 10.1% inflation adds to cost-of-living crisis

The two Tory leadership contenders set out differing visions at a hustings in Belfast.

17 August 2022

Rishi Sunak has stepped up his attacks on Tory leadership rival Liz Truss’s tax plans, warning millions face a “very tough time” this winter without direct support.

The former chancellor said the Foreign Secretary would be guilty of “moral failure” if she does not focus on the most vulnerable, as the cost-of-living crisis deepened on Wednesday.

Ms Truss instead insisted “taxes are too high and they are potentially choking off growth”, as she promised an emergency budget to tackle the emergency.

Conservative leadership bid
Liz Truss during a campaign visit at Belfast Harbour (Clodagh Kilcoyne/PA)

The clash in visions came as spiralling food prices and the cost of other essentials pushed inflation to a 40-year high.

The Office for National Statistics said the Consumer Prices Index measure of inflation hit 10.1% last month.

At a leadership hustings in Belfast, Mr Sunak said steering the country through the winter as energy prices soar is the “most important” short-term issue.

“I think millions of people are at risk of a very tough time and I’ve been very clear that my plan is to support them,” he said.

“I believe that we have to support vulnerable groups, those on low incomes and pensioners, directly with financial support, because a tax cut does not work for those people.

“Liz’s plan is to say ‘well I believe in tax cuts not direct support’. I don’t think that’s right because a tax cut for someone on her salary means £1,700 of help.”

Someone on the national living wage would get a tax cut of £1 a week, he said, while it is worth “precisely zero” for a pensioner who is not working.

“That’s not a plan that I think is right for our country,” Mr Sunak said.

“If we don’t directly help those vulnerable groups, those on the lowest incomes, those pensioners, then it will be a moral failure of the Conservative Government and I don’t think the British people will forgive us for that.”

Ms Truss alleged that less revenue would be raised for the public purse if taxation remains too high because businesses are less likely to invest and people are less likely to set up businesses or “go into work”.

“I think we have got to the stage in our economy where taxes are too high and they are potentially choking off growth,” the frontrunner in the race told Tory members.

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