Cost of living

Truss will take action on energy bills this week

Liz Truss: wants to encourage business investment

Prime Minister in waiting Liz Truss will announce plans this week to tackle the energy cost crisis and will stick to her plan to cut business taxes.

Speaking this morning, Ms Truss said she will act on bills and on supply, but declined to say what measures she will take.

She played down fears about an ‘Armageddon scenario’, insisting that the UK has weathered tougher situations before. 

“I understand people are struggling with eye-watering energy bills with predictions of worse down the track. I will act immediately on bills and on energy supply,” she said. “Those two things go hand in hand.

“We need to deal with the immediate problem. We need to help people, we need to help businesses. But we also need to sort out the supply issue.

‘Within one week, I will make sure there is an announcement on how we are going to deal with the issue of energy bills and long term supply to put this country on the right footing for winter.

“I want to reassure people I will act within one week. What I cannot do is say that that announcement will be. It will take a week to sort out the precise plan.”

She declined to say if she would freeze energy bills.

She said it was important to develop renewables and nuclear. “It is also important we use the resources in the North Sea. There is more we can do to exploit current gas fields. I support exploring fracking.

“It is also about more offshore wind and moving faster on all those projects.”

She said she “absolutely determined” to sort out the problem. On taxes, she said she would provide a full plan “within a month” on how she intended to reduce taxes and get the British economy moving forward.

She is expected to reverse the rise in national insurance contributions introduced by her rival for the leadership Rishi Sunak, the former Chancellor.

“We said in our manifesto we would not raise national insurance and I will reverse that decision [to raise it]” she said, adding that cutting taxes will help businesses.

“Last time we cut corporation tax we saw revenues rise. If we raise it it will be harder to get investment. Having lower corporation tax will increase investment. Putting up tax will not attract investment. We need to build roads, power stations and reservoirs and I am determined to take the tough decisions to move that forward.”

She said it was the job of the Bank of England to bring down inflation and she is a “great believer in the independence of the Bank.

New Cabinet

Ms Truss’s first big task will be to appoint a new Cabinet, with Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng tipped to become Chancellor in place of Nadhim Zahawi who on Friday said an “oven ready” set of plans for dealing with the energy crisis had been put in place for the new PM. 

Therese Coffey, currently Work and Pensions Secretary, could be moved to Health and James Cleverly is likely to step up to Foreign Secretary.

Brexit Opportiunities minister Jacob Rees-Mogg is predicted to take over from Mr Kwarteng after helping to co-ordinate meetings with oil and gas firms over the energy crisis.

Suella Braverman is likely to replace Priti Patel as Home Secretary.

Plan for referendum act

UK ministers are considering a Referendum Act to ensure independence would need to be backed by more than half of Scotland’s entire electorate, rather than a majority of those that vote.

There would also need to be evidence for more than a year that at least 60% of voters want a new referendum on independence before the UK Government would consider it, according to The Sunday Times,.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the proposals were an attempt to ‘gerrymander the rules’, adding: “That is a sign of fundamental weakness and a lack of confidence in her case for the union.”

In 2014, 85% of the Scottish electorate voted – a record turnout for the UK – and 55% backed remaining part of the union.

Ms Sturgeon wants to hold a second vote on independence in October 2023, but wants it to be held legally.

She has asked the UK Supreme Court to rule on wheter such a ballot can be held without the consent of Westminster.

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