John Lewis boss calls for Covid-style cost of living relief package


John Lewis’ boss has urged the government to intervene with a financial support package to protect families from the cost of living crisis, as it has done to help the nation cope with the Covid pandemic.

Dame Sharon White, a former second permanent secretary at the Treasury, said the government needed urgent action as energy bills and inflation soared and families struggled to pay for utility and food costs.

“Whether it’s an emergency budget or any other tool, it’s definitely time to take action,” White said on Wednesday night’s ITV show Peston.

The head of the John Lewis Partnership, which also owns the Waitrose supermarket chain, said action needed to be taken before summer as consumers face another £1,000 annual energy bill increase from October.

“The decisive action we’re seeing, I thought the government was doing incredibly well at speed and scale during Covid, I think we should see the same decisive action fast and paced,” he said.

White added that the UK is facing “at least an urgent challenge related to the cost of living crisis” as with the pandemic, making the cost of public finances “compelling”.

Either the blow will befall households, families, low-income people, or we will make a decision considering its scale and everything that is going on… actually a temporary blow to public finances is worth it.”

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White is the latest frontrunner to publicly call for urgent government action, after Tesco’s chairman, John Allan, said on Tuesday there was an “overwhelming case” for an unexpected tax on energy companies to help those most hurt by the cost of living crisis. became the leading retail leader.

Allan warned that the country is facing “true food poverty for the first time in a generation.”

Arguing persistently against an unexpected tax on oil and gas companies, Johnson failed to rule it out when he was interviewed on LBC radio Thursday morning.