UK government must help poor now, says senior Conservative lawmaker

FILE PHOTO: Britain's Conservative MP Iain Duncan Smith holds European Union Withgrawal Agreement Bill as he leaves Downing Street in London, Britain October 22, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Conservative government needs to take measures now to help those most effected by a worsening cost-of-living crunch, former party leader and senior lawmaker Iain Duncan Smith said on Saturday.

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

Duncan Smith, also a former work and pensions minister, told BBC radio "Universal Credit" welfare payments should be immediately brought in line with inflation as part of what he called a "special fiscal event", in effect an emergency budget.

"I don't think we can afford to wait until later in the year. I think that will begin to look complacent," he said.

"People need to see that we care enough to act immediately and I would recommend that the government pauses and then acts big, it acts boldly and it's brave about this because we have one responsibility - to help those who desperately need it most."

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by David Evans)

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