Veteran retailer Stuart Rose has urged the government to do more to protect the poorest from double-digit inflation, describing the lack of action as ‘horrifying’, with a prime minister ‘on leave ashore’ leaving a situation where “no one is in charge”.
Responding to July’s headline rate of 10.1%, the Tory peer and Asda chairman said: ‘We’ve been very, very slow to recognize this train coming down the tunnel and it’s got a lot of people rolling and we must now face the consequences. .”
Attacking a lack of leadership while Boris Johnson is on vacation, he said: ‘We have to act. The captain of the ship is on shore leave, it’s true, no one is in charge at the moment.
Lord Rose, who is a former Marks & Spencer boss, said action was needed to kill “pernicious” inflation, which he said “erodes wealth over time”. He dismissed claims from Tory leadership candidate Liz Truss’ camp that it would be possible for the UK to emerge from the crisis.
Rose told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘We are sitting here now in the second, third, fourth month of this crisis and we are still waiting to see what action will be taken… I would like to see us take care of those who need it the most.
He said inflation “attacks the poorest hardest, but we have to deal with it, we can’t ignore it”. The pair said he believed interest rates would have to rise further to cope with rising prices and that the UK was “heading into a recession”.
Rose, who is backing Truss’ rival Rishi Sunak to become the next prime minister, criticized the Tory leadership candidates for “throwing money at everything”.
As households fear their energy bills will rise even further in October when the energy price cap is updated, more than 130,000 people have signed a petition backing the call of the former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to an emergency budget to tackle the energy and cost of living crisis.
Labor said soaring prices had left households worried about how they would be able to make ends meet. “People are sick with worry, while the Tories are busy fighting and ignoring the magnitude of this crisis,” said Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.
Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi hit back at the suggestion the government was waiting to offer more support for families, saying people would get £400 in help with energy bills in the ‘coming months’.
“The 8 million people who need the most urgent help are receiving at least £1,200 in extra direct payments,” he told reporters. Zahawi also denounced Labour’s plans to freeze energy bills, saying it would reward “people like me who are at the richer end of the spectrum”.
Unison called the cost of living crisis a “living nightmare for millions of working people”. The union – which represents more than 1.3 million members providing services in education, local government, NHS, policing and energy – is demanding pay rises above the inflation to help workers cope with soaring prices.
“The government and those seeking to become the next prime minister seem indifferent to the plight of those struggling to make ends meet,” said Jon Richards, deputy general secretary of Unison. “Ministers are mistaken if they think workers can endure even more misery.”
Former Bank of England policymaker Andrew Sentance said pay rises received by workers could drive up inflation further.
“You can see what is happening in the labor market, with employees seeking to recoup some of the rising cost of living through wage increases. If you look at the official figures for salary increases in the private sector, they are around 6%. This is well ahead of what is compatible with a 2% inflation target,” he told the BBC.
Sentance, now a senior adviser to consultancy Cambridge Econometrics, said the Bank of England needed to ‘put the brakes on’ pay rises and predicted the Bank could raise interest rates to 4% by the end of the day. end of the year.