Liz Truss: What are the new PM’s policies on issues facing the UK?

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Liz Truss, the UK's new Prime Minister. Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images
Liz Truss, the UK's new Prime Minister. Justin Tallis - WPA Pool/Getty Images
  • Liz Truss was announced as Britain's Prime Minister elect on Monday after a weeks-long party leadership contest. 
  • She has vowed to tackle the UK's cost-of-living crisis fuelled by rising energy prices. 
  • Households in the UK are facing a record 80 percent jump in energy bills, triggered by Russia's war on Ukraine.


Liz Truss, the right-wing Conservative Party leader, has replaced Boris Johnson as the United Kingdom's prime minister.

Truss became the country's fourth leader in six years on Monday and has pledged to tackle a cost-of-living crisis fuelled by soaring energy bills in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

READ | Don't write Boris Johnson off, says UK PM's former aide

But Truss has not provided specific details on how she will tackle high energy prices as she is set to take over amid sky-high inflation, labour strife, and a strained healthcare system.

The UK has been rudderless for weeks as it endures a cascade of workers’ strikes that has disrupted ports, trains and multiple industrial sectors, the worst cost-of-living crisis to hit the country for decades, and a potentially lengthy recession.

So what are Truss's policies on mitigating the crisis?

Energy policy

Households in the UK are facing a record 80 percent jump in energy bills, triggered by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Truss has ruled out energy rationing this winter, pledging instead to increase energy supply. However, officials say without energy rationing, the UK could experience blackouts for several days in January if cold weather combines with gas shortages to leave the country short of power. She has also ruled out a further windfall tax to pay for the cost of living support for struggling families.

"I will be looking across the board to make sure we're increasing [energy] supply and therefore dealing with the root cause of the issue rather than just putting a sticking plaster on," she said. "But I would absolutely be looking to act on business energy costs."

Taxation

Truss ruled out new taxes and rejected the introduction of an additional windfall tax on oil and gas companies that have recorded profits this year.

She pledged to cut taxes that will cost 38 billion pounds ($44bn) annually, but which economists say could cost more than 50 billion pounds ($57bn) a year. However, these tax cuts will do nothing to address the real reasons for Britain's dire productivity growth – such as a lack of investment in infrastructure, skills and other forms of capital. Without new taxes, Truss will need to lean on extra government borrowing or cuts to spending elsewhere to finance further household support. Some economists say her plans will stoke already-high inflation and force the Bank of England to raise interest rates even faster.

Immigration

Truss tweeted a three-point plan that will expand its controversial Rwanda policy with more countries despite the scheme failing to deport a single migrant. Under the Rwanda policy, the UK plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda. She will also increase the front-line border forces by 20 percent and double the border forces’ maritime staffing levels.

She promised to ensure the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) works for the UK. Truss also said she will allow a short-term expansion of the seasonal agricultural scheme, which allows foreign workers to come to the UK for summer agricultural jobs.

Workers' rights

Trade unions have called for Truss to "come clean" on her plans for workers' rights should she become prime minister, after it was reported she is eying a post-Brexit restructuring of employment laws. One review would revise the 48-hour working week, which was adopted as part of the European Union working time directive.

Truss faces pressure to resolve ongoing strikes by criminal barristers and further walkouts by rail workers, as well as the threat of industrial action in other sectors this winter. She was criticised previously during the leadership campaign after leaked audio revealed she had said British workers need to display "more graft" and has been accused by Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner of wanting to take a "sledgehammer" to workers' rights.

Oil and gas

Truss said she would approve more oil drilling in the North Sea. Truss's policy advisers are thought to be discussing proposals to issue up to 130 new drilling licences, which typically take nearly three decades to produce any oil and gas.

This has been criticised by environmental campaigners as a gift to the fossil fuel giants and will contribute to the climate crisis.

Subsidies (NHS and public transport)

Even though the National Health Service (NHS) is facing the biggest crisis in its history, Truss plans on diverting 13 billion pounds ($15bn) earmarked for the NHS to catch up on delayed treatment after Covid-19 on social care. She said the lack of local decision-making is the problem with the NHS rather than a lack of funding.

Regarding public transport, Truss said she will propose new laws that will make it harder to call strikes and to "guarantee minimum levels of service are maintained on public transport". The rule changes could include raising the threshold for strike action – already fairly stringent in the UK – and limiting the number of strikes unions can carry out once they have received the backing of votes.



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