Race to No.10: Sunak vs Truss on inflation and levelling up

By Rebecca Weller contact

- Last updated on GMT

Battle for No 10: PM candidates take part in debate discussing inflation and levelling up (Credit: Getty/oversnap)
Battle for No 10: PM candidates take part in debate discussing inflation and levelling up (Credit: Getty/oversnap)

Related tags: Government, Legislation, Finance, Health and safety

Taking part in a head-to-head debate on the BBC last night (Monday 25 July), Prime Ministerial (PM) candidates Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss discussed how they would tackle inflation, economic security and levelling up.

Sunak, former Chancellor of the Exchequer, accused Truss, current Foreign Secretary, of promising £40bn of “unfunded tax cuts” which would be put on the countries “credit card”, leaving the nation’s children and grandchildren to pick up the tab.

Additionally, Sunak stated Truss’s ideals would “tip millions of people into misery” while he would provide eventual rather than immediate tax cuts and focus on levelling up, citing the work he has done with freeports post-Brexit as an example of this.

He added: “We can create that excitement across the country, that’s what levelling up is all about.”

This comes as earlier this week the British Beer & Pub Association (BBP) called for “urgent reform” of business rates for the hospitality sector.

BBPA​ chief executive Emma McClarkin said: “Our industry is trying to bounce back fully from the pandemic but we need incentives to invest and revitalise our brewing and pub businesses.”

Invest in business 

Truss suggested her oppositions “doom and gloom” approach was “contractile” and posed the risk of a recession, while her policies would put off re-payments of Covid debt for three years with not raising taxes and investment her primary focus.

As PM, the Foreign secretary said she would keep corporation tax low and reverse increases to National Insurance.

She added: “Hardworking people have seen their taxes rise despite promises in our manifesto we wouldn’t do that. You can’t put up taxes and get growth.

“I want to be on the side of people who do the right thing, people who invest in businesses, who go to work every day and who run small businesses.”

However, the former Chancellor, who previously described his views as “common-sense Thatcherism”, refuted the Foreign Secretary’s claims, stating his policies would protect the UK economy and it was “not moral to ask our children to pick up the tab” on the countries debt.

Sunak stated inflation, which is the highest it has been for 70 years, was a result of unprecedented Government spending to stabilise the economy during the Covid pandemic but expressed repayments should not be postponed as his opponent suggested, saying there was “nothing Conservative” about Truss’s economic plans.

The prospective PMs were also asked if they would consider sending the Royal Navy overseas to protect grain stores following Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which outgoing PM Boris Johnson previously stated were in “urgent​” need of exporting, with Truss stating she would not be prepared to do so.

Furthermore, Truss stated the Government​ should “learn from its mistakes” with regards to relationships with China after becoming “dependant” on Russia for oil and gas.

Stability and support 

Sunak responded he would take a “robust view” on protecting the UK’s economic and food security as well as focusing on climate change and sustainability to ensure the UK can be more self-sufficient with its energy supply.

This comes as operators face soaring costs​ across the board, from energy prices to supply chain issues, as well as a recruitment crisis.

Earlier this month, UKHospitality (UKH) CEO Kate Nicholls stated businesses need “clear, consistent, strategic plans to restore confidence, underpin investment and accelerate economic growth”, a view echoed by licensees across the industry.

Bath Pub Company managing director Joe Cussens said: “Whoever is in numbers 10 and 11, we desperately need stability and a plan to support businesses.

“VAT cut would be top of my wish list, without it there’s going to be a tsunami of business failures.

“[They] need to fix the problem at the top before we can have any hope of meaningful solutions to the economy’s woes.”

 

Related topics: Legislation

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