‘Middle class are finding it tough too!’ Rishi Sunak defends £400 for every household

Rishi Sunak defends 'universal' £400 payout to households

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The Chancellor insisted he wanted to ensure his rescue package was as universal as possible to have all Britons get some extra help with their bills. Rishi Sunak unveiled his multi-billion pound strategy after weeks of mounting pressure from Opposition parties and the public struggling with the cost of living crisis. He insisted “middle class are finding it tough too” as he defended the decision to have all households benefit from a £400 energy bill discount in October.

Mr Sunak argued that middle-income households as well as people in expensive-looking homes or high council tax bands are finding life hard too and need help.

Speaking to Sky News host Niall Paterson, the Chancellor said: “You and I don’t need it but, actually, 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 can you deliver that?

“And the reality is, when you’re talking about that number of people, there really aren’t many ways to do it. And we really wanted to make sure this was as universal as possible.”

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He continued: “We had another alternative available, which was a council tax rebate which is where you can try and exclude people right at the top in very large houses.

But you know what? We tried that, and we tried to do that with a discretionary fund, and it’s worked reasonably well but there’s lots of cases of people who will say, ‘hand on, I happen to live in this expensive-looking house or high council tax ban house but I need help too.’

“So this being universal means we avoid all of those problems and we do get help to anyone who needs it.”

The Chancellor acknowledged that high inflation is causing “acute distress” across the UK as he unveiled his £15 billion plan to the Commons on Thursday.

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Addressing his peers, Mr Sunak said the Government “will not sit idly by while there is a risk that some in our country might be set so far back they might never recover”.

The new strategy also includes a one-off £650 payment to more than eight million low-income households on benefits and a £300 payment to pensioner households in November/December alongside the winter fuel payment.

The Tory frontbencher said a 25 percent energy profits levy would be coupled with a new incentive, almost doubling the tax relief available on investment.

The timing of his announcement has sparked questions in Westminster, coming just a day after the release of Sue Gray’s report detailing the lockdown-busting parties in No 10.

But Mr Sunak denied it was a distraction tactic, insisting to reporters that “the timing of today is because we now have more clarity” about energy bills.

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