The Prime Minister said the government would “put our arms round people” but he declined to spell out what support might be offered, or when, saying people will “just have to wait a little bit longer”.
One idea which appears to have been rejected by the Treasury is a return of the £20-a-week increase in Universal Credit.
The government’s Universal Credit £20 uplift was initially introduced for a 12-month period in March 2020, however it was extended until October 2021.
South Belfast MP Claire Hanna described Mr Johnson’s comments as “insulting,” while a children’s charity in Northern Ireland urged the government to “rethink its huge cut to Universal Credit”.
Ms Hanna said: “It’s insulting to suggest that families under huge pressure as a result of this crisis should ‘just wait a little bit longer’ for support.
“This support is needed now, with every delay making it harder for people to get by.”
The SDLP MP added: “Warm words provide little comfort to people who are suffering, we need to see a proper plan brought forward at the next opportunity, including a windfall tax on the huge profits of energy companies, to get support out to the people who need it most.”
Lorna Ballard, national director, of Action for Children Northern Ireland, said: ‘The worst pain and misery of the cost-of-living crisis is being felt by children in low income families, yet the government is refusing to target help for these children or accept that it needs to rethink its huge cut to Universal Credit.”
The Prime Minister has faced pressure from MPs, including some Tories, to introduce a windfall tax to pay for new measures to help poorer households cope with rising food and energy bills.
Mr Johnson said: “No option is off the table, let’s be absolutely clear about that.
“I’m not attracted, intrinsically, to new taxes. But as I have said throughout, we have got to do what we can, and we will, to look after people through the aftershocks of Covid, through the current pressures on energy prices that we are seeing post-Covid and with what’s going on in Russia and we are going to put our arms round people, just as we did during the pandemic.”
He said there was “more that we are going to do” but “you’ll just have to wait a little bit longer”.