Sir Keir Starmer has revealed his family had their phone cut off for “months at a time” when he was a child as they couldn’t afford to pay the bills.

The Labor leader told the BBC he was not claiming to be in “great poverty” when growing up, but said he could relate to those currently facing difficulties as the cost of living crisis hits households.

“I completely get it,” he said. “My dad worked in a factory and my mum worked as a nurse, and I actually do know what it is like to sit around the kitchen table not being able to pay your bills.

“I remember our utilities, our phone being cut off because we couldn’t pay the bill, so I know what is going through people’s minds.”

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Asked how long the line was cut off for, Sir Keir said: “For periods of time… months at a time, but we got to a point where we couldn’t pay for the utilities.

“I am not claiming great poverty or anything, but I do know what it is like to sit round the table and think we can’t make ends meet.

“Millions of people will be having that anxious conversation as we speak now so… I absolutely get that.”

There is growing concern in households across the country about the hikes in energy bills coming their way this winter after Ofgem confirmed the price cap would rise by 80% in October – leading to the average household paying £3,549 a year for their gas and electricity.

Businesses are also being hit by the leap in energy prices as they are not covered by the household cap.

At the same time, inflation is at a record 40-year high and food prices are rocketing.

The government is facing increasing pressure to take action and to offer more support to both households and businesses.

But Boris Johnson has insisted it is for the next prime minister to decide what measures to take, with either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss set to be named as the new Conservative leader on Monday.

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Frontrunner Ms Truss had previously ruled out giving any “handouts” to people, instead promising tax cuts to encourage growth.

But in the final hustings of the leadership campaign last night, she hinted there would be more direct support.

Mr Sunak has already promised to give targeted help to the lowest income households if he becomes PM, though he has not revealed any detail to his plan.

Meanwhile, Labor has called for a freeze on the energy cap at its current level for six months to help people over the winter, saying the multi-billion pound move would be paid for through a windfall tax.

And it wants to roll-out insulation to 19 million homes across the country, as well as speed up adoption of wind, solar, tidal and nuclear power.

Sir Keir told the BBC his party would not “walk past” those struggling “in the face of eye watering increases”.

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