Liz Truss has been accused of “a major U-turn” after pledging to “do all that I can to help struggling households” cope with the cost of living crisis.
The Tory leadership favourite has been under pressure since the weekend, when she told the Financial Times: “The way I would do things is in a Conservative way of lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts.”
Since then, experts have predicted that the energy price cap will rise to more than £4,200 a year, threatening millions of people with poverty.
Both Truss and Sunak have also been urged to meet with Boris Johnson to agree an emergency cost of living support package – something which has been ruled out by the government.
In an apparent change of tack from her previous stance, Truss said today: “As a Conservative I am clear that our first port of call should always be to let people keep more of their own money.
“I understand how difficult the rising cost of living is making life for many, and if elected I will do all that I canto help struggling households.
“As it stands we are hurtling towards a recession. If we don’t get our economy growing we won’t be able to help anyone.
“That’s why I have a bold plan to cut taxes, for individuals and businesses, to turbocharge our economy, grow the size of the pie and increase prosperity for everyone.”
A spokesperson for Sunak’s campaign said: “This is a major u-turn on the biggest issue currently facing the country.
“It’s all very well offering empty words about ‘doing all you can’. But there aren’t lots of different ways to act on this. Taking action means providing direct support, which Truss had previously dismissed as ‘handouts’.
“Twice now, Truss has made a serious moral and political misjudgement on a policy affecting millions of people, after last week reversing plans to cut the pay of teachers and the armed forces outside London. Mistakes like this in Government would cost the Conservative Party the next General Election.”
A spokesperson for Truss said: “Rishi Sunak wouldn’t know how people benefit from a tax cut because he has never cut a tax in his life. People didn’t vote for the Conservative Party to be subjected to old fashioned Gordon Brown style politics of envy.
“You cannot tax your way to growth and Liz’s agenda is to build a high wage, high growth, low tax economy that supports people.
“Liz believes in people keeping more of their own money, not Rishi’s socialist tax and spend which will lead us to recession.”