RISHI Sunak has been accused of becoming “the last person in Britain who had not realised the scale of the cost-of-living crisis people are experiencing” – in the aftermath of the Chancellor’s cost-of-living announcement in Parliament on Thursday (May 26).

As part of his cost-of-living plan, Mr Sunak revealed that the government would introduce an 'energy profits levy'; a windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies.

Among other measures revealed by Mr Sunak, eight million households on the lowest incomes are to get a one-off payment of £650, with every household getting £400 for energy bills as the loan scheme is scrapped.

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In addition, eight million pensioners will get an extra £300, and a one-off disability cost of living payment of £150 will be introduced.

While some took the line of the government measures as “every little helps”, some MPs in the North East took the Chancellor’s announcement as “too little, too late”.

However, other MPs took the opportunity not to comment on the cost-of-living crisis – after The Northern Echo contacted every North East Member of Parliament on the issue.

City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy, has branded the Chancellor as “the last person in Britain who had not realised the scale of the cost-of-living crisis people are experiencing,” while accusing the Tories of “running out of ideas.”

The Northern Echo: City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.City of Durham MP, Mary Kelly Foy. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

The Labour MP told The Northern Echo: “His U-turn is months too late, and it is shameful that in the face of the greatest drop in living standards since the 1950s the Government have had to be dragged kicking and screaming by Labour to back our sensible plan to tax the energy companies who are treating the British people as a cashpoint.

“Sadly, while the Chancellor dithered, the cost-of-living crisis has only worsened.

“All today's announcement proves is that the Tories are out of ideas and only Labour has the plans necessary tackle the cost-of-living crisis for ordinary people.

“The Chancellor was the last person in Britain who had not realised the scale of the cost of living crisis people are experiencing.”

The Northern Echo: Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.Middlesbrough MP, Andy McDonald. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

Meanwhile, Andy McDonald, MP for Middlesbrough, has described the government as being “dragged kicking and screaming” to help families in the region.

The Labour MP also blasted Mr Sunak’s announcement as “another U-turn for this cruel and hapless Tory party”.

In a statement, Mr McDonald said: "We have long been calling on the government to introduce a windfall tax on the energy companies who are reaping the rewards of rising global oil and gas prices. 

“Yet again, this government has had to be dragged kicking and screaming to help the thousands of families who are struggling to get by.

The Northern Echo: Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

“Families, who have already been unable to eat properly or heat their homes, should have been the priority of this government, not partying day after day. 

“Another day, another U-turn for this cruel and hapless Tory party." 

Alongside Mr McDonald’s comments, Stockton North MP, Alex Cunningham, has also waded in on the Chancellor’s statement – suggesting that the cost-of-living announcement could have been revealed to “mask” the Sue Gray report.

He said: “I’m pleased that after months of dither and delay the Chancellor has finally come round to the Labour Party’s proposed Windfall Tax on excess gas and oil profits to help families cope with the huge increase in energy bills.  

The Northern Echo: Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

“But it really shouldn’t have taken him this long to act. Sadly, in the time it has taken him to announce his U-turn people have seen their energy bills more than double and the Chancellor’s unwillingness to tackle the rocketing fuel costs until now has caused undue anxiety for millions of people.

“The cynic in me however wonders if the announcement was delayed and then made today to deflect attention from the Sue Gray report into Boris Johnson’s illegal partying.

Mr Cunningham added: “But despite the glacial pace of the Chancellor’s response, this announcement – including the scrapping of the unfair “pay-back” element of his original loan scheme – is a welcome one and I know it will bring relief to a lot of people.

“Now the Government needs to act to help get prices down and ensure our people are protected.”

The Northern Echo: Darlington MP, Peter Gibson. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.Darlington MP, Peter Gibson. Picture: NORTHERN ECHO.

Despite the Labour attack on Mr Sunak's announcement, Darlington MP, Peter Gibson, has defended the chancellor and has welcomed the measures for his constituents. 

Mr Gibson said: “I am delighted that our Northern Chancellor has listened to representations from across our communities with respect to the challenges we are facing with the rise in costs of food, energy and fuel.  

“I warmly welcome the further and extended package of measures to support everyone, and even further help for the most vulnerable, elderly and most in need.”

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