The Daily Express reported yesterday that Chancellor Rishi Sunak was considering the Donald Trump-style scheme, which saw the then-president handing out hundreds of dollars to American families during a Covid lockdown.
Asked about our story on LBC Radio, Mr Kwarteng told presenter Nick Ferrari that ministers and officials were looking into the idea.
Mr Kwarteng said: “We will watch.
There are a lot of metrics that people have been talking about and that is ultimately the business of Rishi Sunak and his team at Treasury.
“I talk to him and my officials talk to his officials and we try to find a common solution.”
Inflation is at its highest level in 30 years and energy prices are at record highs. But the minister said those overwhelmed by winter bills will have to wait for the chancellor’s spring statement to hear about help.
He added: “There is already support that is being provided. We have the warm house rebates, payment for winter fuel as well. But we are having conversations within government to see what can be done about more.”
Emma Pinchbeck, chief executive of suppliers’ trade body Energy UK, raised fears of two hikes in the cost of gas and electricity this year.
The former is expected to be 50% in April after energy regulator Ofgem raised the price cap. The second could come in October if the price of wholesale gas continues to soar.
The Social Market Foundation think tank said cash payments of up to £500 would be the best answer.
Chief Economist Dr Aveek Bhattacharya said households where no one is a higher rate taxpayer should receive £300, with an additional £200 for those on Universal Credit or inherited benefits. In a nod to the Chancellor’s self-confessed addiction to Diet Coke, he suggested it could be called “Rishi’s Cola (Cost of Living Assistance)”.
The Treasury said: “We recognize the pressures… and are providing support worth around £12billion this financial year and next.” A spokesperson for Boris Johnson said: ‘Work is underway to look at what we can do to mitigate the impact of significantly higher bills