Liz Truss has refused to commit to extra support for families struggling with the cost-of-living if she becomes the next prime minister.
It comes as Truss and her opponent for the Conservative leadership, Rishi Sunak, were pressed over their plans to tackle the crisis.
There is rising concern over soaring living costs, with average energy bills forecast to reach as much as £3,582 per year from October.
Costs are expected to rise further still, with analysts warning that bills could even top £4,000 in January.
A meeting on the cost-of-living crisis is scheduled to take place next month, with the new prime minister due to be announced on September 5.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and former prime minister Gordon Brown have both called on the UK Government to bring forward the meeting.
However, No 10 is reluctant to take any further action while Boris Johnson remains in office until his successor is named.
Speaking during a campaign visit to Huddersfield on Tuesday, Truss said that if she wins the contest, she would “see what the situation is like” in autumn.
However, she insisted that the priority must be economic growth, with a package of emergency tax cuts.
Truss has criticised Sunak’s plans to raise corporation tax to 25%.
“What I am talking about is enabling people to keep more money in their own pockets,” Truss said.
“What I don’t believe in is taxing people to the highest level in 70 years and then giving them their own money back.
“We are Conservatives. We believe in low taxes.”
She continued: “Of course, we will need to deal with the circumstances as they arise.
“We will see what the situation is like in autumn, but I am committed to making sure people are supported and I am committed to growing the economy.”
During his own campaign visit to the North East of England, Sunak insisted that he could offer hundreds of pounds in extra support to those shouldering the cost-of-living burden.
The former chancellor said that he had “no doubt” that extra support would be needed to help get people through the winter period.
And he also said that he is “confident” he can find the money needed to ease the strain from government efficiency savings.
Earlier, Money Saving Expert’s Martin Lewis appealed to the two contenders to bury their differences to tackle the problem together, warning the country was facing a “national cataclysm”.
“They are all in the same party, let’s call on them to come together for the good of the nation rather than personal point-scoring,” he said.