Harlow’s MP has called for a new social tariff as he warned that many businesses will not last due to the cost of living.

Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon, who is backing former Chancellor Rishi Sunak to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister, said on Saturday that whoever takes the reins in No 10 needs to perform a “huge-scale” intervention.

In an interview with GB News, Mr Halfon called for a new “social tariff” for vulnerable families and those who are “just about managing”.

He also said that small businesses require a similar tariff, adding that big businesses can absorb the additional costs but small businesses cannot.

The MP said: “We are facing a triple whammy which is hitting families, the public sector and small businesses. 

“In my region in Harlow in Essex, I’ve spoken to the owners of takeaways and restaurants who say their fuel bills are almost tripling.

“My local GP surgery is seeing its energy bill rise from £10,000 to £24,000. Schools are unable to recruit staff as they are facing increased energy costs.”

Mr Halfon has said he is backing Rishi Sunak to be the next PM and said it is right that the leadership contest should continue despite the ongoing financial crisis.

He said: “Rishi visited my constituency last week. There are a lot of people who still haven't decided who to vote for. Many have also decided to vote for Rishi having had Liz in mind initially. So I think it’s right for the contest to continue. But whoever gets in must take large and immediate action. 

“Rishi proved when he was Chancellor, with the package he delivered, that he is willing to support people.”

Chancellor Nadhim Zahawi has declared he is working “flat out” to draw up options for a plan of action for the next prime minister so they can “hit the ground running” when they take office in September.

In an interview with The Daily Telegraph, he said he was exploring ways to ensure “we help those who really need the help”.

“My concern is there are those who aren’t on benefits,” he said.