A 77-year-old woman who eats just one meal a day and travels by bus during the day to cut her household bills was ‘disappointed’ with Boris Johnson’s response to her plight in an interview with Good Morning Britain, the show host Susanna Reid said.
The Prime Minister was challenged by Reid over Elsie’s difficult financial situation and rising energy bills on the ITV programme. Johnson, the former mayor of London, replied: “The 24 hour freedom bus pass [allowing free bus travel for over-60s in London] was actually something that I actually introduced.
Speaking to LBC’s Tonight with Andrew Marr about her interview with the Prime Minister on Tuesday, Reid said: “I’ve spoken to Elsie since this morning’s interview with the Prime Minister, and she says how much she is disappointed with what he said.
“Because she says there are people who are even worse off than her, and there was no answer for them, other than ‘oh I was the person who was responsible for the bus pass’, I mean, like she’s supposed to be grateful.”
Andrew Marr added: “Which, by the way, isn’t quite right on its own, because it was the London boroughs that brought this in.”
According to Reid, Elsie’s gas and electricity bill has risen from £17 to £85 a month. She has lost weight after cutting down to just one meal a day and only goes shopping in the late afternoon when discount ‘yellow sticker’ items are on sale.
The Prime Minister had told Reid there were ‘a lot more things we are doing’, adding: ‘What we want to do is make sure we have people who are in particular difficulty taken care of. by their councils, so we’re putting a lot more money into local councils.
“We have special payments to help the elderly especially with the cost of heating.”
Pushed on what Elsie should cut, he said, “I don’t want Elsie to have to cut anything.”
Johnson added: “The best answer is to help him reduce the cost of energy like we are, but also… to make sure there’s a direct reduction in his council tax as a result. of what we do.”
During the interview, the Prime Minister also highlighted the winter fuel allowance and other “measures we have put in place to help people”.
He said the government is “ensuring that we now take the necessary steps to invest in our energy supply” to “ensure we have the supply for the medium to long term”.