(Bloomberg) -- Boris Johnson has ordered his government to slash the UK civil service by around a fifth -- cutting around 90,000 jobs -- to free up billions of pounds for possible tax cuts.

The prime minister told his ministers at a cabinet meeting on Thursday that the civil service needs to get back to its 2016 headcount, a person familiar with the matter said.

Johnson is trying to prove to voters he is wrestling back control of his government after a torrid few months in which he has faced calls to resign over parties in Downing Street and lost hundreds of council seats in local elections.

With less than two years until the next general election is due, the premier wants to be seen to be pulling out all the stops to help people with spiraling inflation as the cost of energy and food rapidly increases. Taking aim at the civil service will also appeal to much of his Conservative Party base, who support shrinking the state.

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Brexit opportunities minister, told Sky News on Friday the simplest way of achieving the cuts was through a recruitment freeze. He said around 38,000 people leave the civil service every year, so it could be done through two years of “natural wastage.”

He also said new technology should be used within the civil service to “help with efficiencies.”

Johnson convened his cabinet on Thursday in Stoke-on-Trent, West Midlands, to try and find ways to ease pressure on people struggling with the soaring cost of living.

The premier told the Daily Mail: “We have got to cut the cost of government to reduce the cost of living.”

He said that “every pound” of government spending cut helps taxpayers because it’s “money they can spend on their own priorities, on their own lives.”

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