UK’s Sunak to warn cost of living crisis won’t be easy to fix

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Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak speaks at the CBI annual dinner, in London

LONDON (Reuters) – British finance minister Rishi Sunak will warn on Wednesday that easing the cost-of-living crisis for families will not be easy and he will also promise to cut business taxes to boost investment, staff training and innovation.

British inflation surged last month to its highest annual rate since 1982, with consumer price inflation hitting 9% in April, pressuring Sunak to do more to help those struggling to pay rising food, fuel and energy bills.

“Our role in government is to cut costs for families. I cannot pretend this will be easy,” Sunak will say at a Confederation of British Industry dinner, according to extracts of his speech released in advance.

“There is no measure any government could take, no law we could pass, that can make these global forces disappear overnight. The next few months will be tough.”

Sunak has previously said he wants to wait to see the extent of a further rise in regulated domestic power tariffs in the autumn before deciding on how much more support households need.

In his speech on Wednesday, he will also reiterate a promise made in March to cut business taxes later this year and encourage employers to do their bit to ease the economic pain for households by keeping up investment and innovation spending.

“We need you to invest more, train more, and innovate more. In the Autumn Budget we will cut your taxes to encourage you to do all those things,” he will say.

“That is the path to higher productivity, higher living standards, and a more prosperous and secure future.”

CBI Director-General Tony Danker welcomed Sunak’s willingness to help households and provide incentives for business investment but said the need for support was immediate.

“There’s a window now where firms are deciding whether to stick or twist on their spending plans, so not everything can wait until autumn,” he said. “Immediate delivery of existing commitments can help protect business confidence.”

(Reporting by William James and William Schomberg, Editing by Kylie MacLellan)