OPPOSITION MPs from the North East have joined calls for an emergency budget to help people cope with rises to the cost of living as inflation reached a 40-year high.

Labour MPs in the region said people are hurting and need further action from the Government – calling for an emergency budget to address the cost of living crisis.

But Treasury minister Simon Clarke, MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the Government would bring further measures to address the cost of living “at such time that they will make the right difference in a targeted way”.

He made the comments in Parliament yesterday in response  to Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, who accused the Government of being “out of touch” and “out of ideas”.

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He told the Commons: “The reality is that high global energy prices and supply chain pressures are pushing up prices in economies right across the world, including the United Kingdom. And this has been worsened very significantly by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine which has injected so much uncertainty into the economic outlook.

“We are monitoring the data very closely. There is no question – I do not dispute it – that these challenges are a setback to our recovery, and they’re having a significant impact on the cost of living.”

Inflation hit a 40-year high of nine per cent last month, driven by a jump is electricity and gas prices as the higher energy price cap came into effect.

The annual rate of CPI inflation rose to nine per cent in April, up from seven per cent in March.

The cost of household utilities rose by an average of £700 in April.

The Government says it is providing support worth £22 billion this year to ease pressures on households.

Alex Cunningham, Labour MP for Stockton, called again for a wind-fall tax on oil and gas to help cut energy bills – a measure which was voted down by Tory MPs on Tuesday.

He said:  “Working families, pensioners and others are hurting as they struggle to stretch their income.  Food and fuel prices are rocketing, interest rates have increased and inflation is up to its highest level in 40 years.  And everyone knows it is going to get much worse before it gets better.   

“As a result of over a decade of Conservative mismanagement and failure to plan, people are being forced to make difficult choices and many more face getting into debt or sinking into poverty.

“We need government to take action now – not at some undetermined date in the future.”

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Mary Foy, Labour MP for Durham, added: “The people of Durham are facing the steepest decline in living standards since the 1950s.  Food and energy prices are soaring, fuelling the highest inflation for 40 years and all the while the value of people's pay packet is falling every passing month.

 “Yet, unbelievably when faced with this reality, the Government, spearheaded by a billionaire chancellor, continues to refuse to take action to support households and the economy - it is as self-defeating as it is cruel. We need a government on people’s side.

“An emergency budget must now take place to give Britain a long overdue pay rise, to uprate the value of pensions and benefits and curb runaway energy bills with a windfall tax on energy companies posting record profits."

Peter Gibson, Conservative MP for Darlington, said: “The Government has already provided £22bn of support in these challenging times. Everything remains under review and as the situation evolves I am confident that further support if needed will be forthcoming.

“These are unique times with post covid and Ukraine war driving food and energy prices and inflation at a time when we have record numbers in employment and record job vacancies."

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