Rishi Sunak Suggests Wealthy People Who Don't Need The £400 Cost Of Living Grant Should Give It To Charity
Rishi Sunak has urged people who don't need the £400 grant being given to all households as part of his new cost-of-living package to donate the money to charity.
The Chancellor said he planned to give his grant to charity and that he would like to see others "join" him in doing so if they feel they do not require the financial support.
"If you like me can also give that money to charity, if you don't need it, then that's fine," he told Sky News.
Sunak announced on Thursday that every household in October would receive a £400 grant to help them with their rising energy bills, which will not have to be repaid.
It is part of a wider fresh package of support that includes a 25% windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas companies, and one-off, direct payments to the lowest income households, pensioners and the disabled.
The Chancellor said the new measures amount to £15bn in additional support.
The universal nature of the £400 grant, however, has attracted criticisim from those who say it will reach the wealthiest people in society who do not need the financial help.
Critics yesterday pointed out that people with second homes are set to receive the grant.
But Sunak defended the policy this morning, telling Sky News that it was the best way of getting support to people and that those who don't need it should give it to charity.
"You and I don't need it," he told host Niall Paterson, "but lots and lots and lots of people do".
"When you're trying to help people on that scale, when you need to get help to tens of millions of people, you've got a choice: how best do you deliver that?
"The reality is when you're talking about that number of people, there really aren't that many ways to do it and we wanted to make sure that this was as universal as possible."
He argued that living in a large house doesn't necessarily mean that you don't need support from the government to get through the cost-of-living crisis.
"We had another alternative which was a council tax rebate, which is where you can try and exclude people right at the top in very large houses," Sunak said.
"But, do you know what? We tried that, and we tried to do it with a discretionary fund, and it has worked reasonably well. But there are lots of cases of people who will say 'Hang on, I happen to live in this expensive-looking house or high council tax band house, but I need help too.'
"This being universal means we avoid all of those problems and really do get help to everyone who needs it".
In an interview with ITV's Good Morning Britain, he said second homes which receive the £400 grant would account for "one or two per cent" of the total housing stock.
The government had been under growing pressure to provide more financial support to the public in the run-up to Sunak's announcement yesterday, including from Conservative MPs.
Sunak said he had been waiting for clarity on how the energy market was expected to look later this year before making a final decision on what support to provide.
Earlier in this week Jonathan Brearley, chief executive of Ofgem, said he expected the energy price cap to rise by £830 to £2,800 in October, putting more pressure on household bills.
Speaking in the House of Commons yesterday, Sunak said he wanted to reassure the public "we will get through this" and that the rising cost of energy and costs will not be a long-term trend.
"We cannot and must not allow short-term inflationary pressures to lead people to expect that high inflation will continue in the long term," the Chancellor said.
"It may take time, but we have the tools we need and resolve it'll take to reduce inflation".
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