he boss of supermarket chain Asda has called on ministers to do more to help ease the cost of living crisis as he revealed some shoppers at his stores are now asking checkout operators to limit their spending to £30.
Veteran retail executive Lord Stuart Rose said that while he understood the Government was anxious to reduce its mountain of debt built up during the Covid-19 pandemic, the current crisis was on a similar scale.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, Lord Rose said: “I know the government is very reluctant to put its hand in its pocket again, because it’s built up a huge amount of debt following Covid.
“But at the end of the day we did it once, this is a crisis of similar proportions, and people could be affected for a very much longer than Covid affected us.
“So I think this is the time to rethink it now, personally, the fact that the government seems to be saying that nothing will happen until next year…I worry about a little bit because that’s a long time away.
“I would urge them to do more and I would urge them to do more for those people at the bottom end of the earnings income scale. And I would do something which is pretty effective, and has something like the VAT reduction would be helpful.”
Chancellor Rishi Sunak is facing calls from some of his Cabinet colleagues and backbench Tory MPs to slash taxes to help ease the cost of living crisis and boost growth.
But Mr Sunak is resisting pressure to reduce personal income taxes amid concerns that it couold stoke inflation and drive up debt. The Government says it has provided a £37billion package of support over the past few months to help ease the cost of living crisis.
But the Asda chairman said shopers were having to set spending limits at the checkout to avoid busting their household budgets.
He added: “This is the first time consumers have seen significant inflation for nearly 30-40 years and it’s come as a surprise, it’s come as a very nasty surprise.
“People are scaling back, they are worried about their spending, they have got a limit they set out to, they say £30 is my limit and if they get to more than £30 stop. It’s the same with petrol, same everywhere.”
Meanwhile the former Conservative minister John Redwood said inflation would soon be tamed and that the government now needed to focus on finding ways to boost economic growth.
The senior Tory MP tweeted: “The current inflation comes from a world energy and food crisis and too easy a money policy last year. Inflation should come down a lot next year as policy is now tight. We urgently need a growth policy to stop recession next year.”