Sunak says Truss’s cost of living plan is ‘big bung’ to wealthy and large firms

·3 min read
<span>Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Rishi Sunak has launched a fresh attack on his Conservative leadership rival Liz Truss’s plan for tax cuts in an emergency budget, describing it as a “big bung” for large businesses and the better-off which would do little to help those most in need over the winter.

On Saturday, Truss rejected “handouts” as a way of helping people affected by the cost of living crisis. Rather, Truss said that she would go ahead with her proposed tax cuts, which would be her primary way of helping people with the cost of living crisis.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Truss said she would help households facing a financial squeeze, but that she would do this “in a Conservative way of lowering the tax burden, not giving out handouts”.

Writing in the Sun on Monday, Sunak rejected this approach, saying: “Families are facing a long, hard winter with rising bills. Yet Liz’s plan to deal with that is to give a big bung to large businesses and the well-off, leaving those who most need help out in the cold.”

He added that what was worse was the fact that Truss said “she will not provide direct support payments to those who are feeling the pinch most”.

The result of the Tory leadership contest will be announced on 5 September.

On Sunday, Truss was accused of making another U-turn within a week, after her campaign tried to play down suggestions there would be no support payments to help millions of struggling people through an already worsening cost of living crisis this winter.

It follows Truss having been forced to abandon plans to cut public sector pay for roles outside London and the south-east.

Oliver Dowden, the former co-chairman of the Conservative party, who is backing Sunak for leader, said Truss’s plans of cutting national insurance would do little to alleviate the cost of living crisis.

Related: ‘Patriotic, rational, kind’: what their supporters say about Truss and Sunak

Speaking to Sky News, Dowden said: “It’s that kind of scale of direct intervention that is required and I think just proposing to cut the national insurance contribution – which will only help people on the lowest incomes working full-time on the national living wage by less than 60 – is not sufficient to this scale of challenge.”

He added that in contrast to Truss, Sunak had a “bold and direct action in response” to the current economic situation, in which a recession has been predicted among rising inflation by the Bank of England.

Truss backer and former Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis said: “It’s a false premise to argue that you can’t deal with inflation, whilst making sure that people are better off at the same time.”

On tax cuts, he added: “We want to do both, want to make sure we’re getting on top of inflation and you can – to get on top of inflation whilst still putting more money in people’s pockets.

“I think it’s a false premise to argue that you can’t deal with inflation whilst making sure that people are better off at the same time.”