Rishi Sunak calls on wealthy to give their £400 energy bill 'bonus' to charity

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Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak during a Cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 24, 2022.
Rishi Sunak has said he will be donating his own energy savings to charity. (PA)

Rishi Sunak has urged the country's richest people to donate their energy rebate to charity as he defended his decision to include Britain's top earners in his emergency package of measures aimed at tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

On Thursday, the chancellor - who himself is worth an estimated £730million - announced his plan to give every household in Britain £400 off their energy bills.

Sunak has said he will be donating his own £400 payout to a "local cause" and has urged others who are affluent to do the same.

“This being universal means that we ... really do get help to everyone who needs it and you, like me, I am sure like me, you can also give that money to charity if you don’t need it," he told Sky News.

Watch: Sunak says the rich could give their rebate to charity

Sunak also defended criticism after it emerged those who own second homes will receive a second £400 grant.

He said there are only a couple of “practical” ways of delivering payments, either universally or through the council tax system, which could exclude some deserving individuals.

He told BBC Breakfast: “Second homes account for one or two per cent of the property stock.”

The £400 of energy bill discount was part of a package of measures funded by a new windfall tax, which also includes:

  • Eight million households on benefits will receive a one off £650 payment

  • Every household will receive £400 towards their energy bills, with the £200 repayable 'discount' scrapped

  • Pensioners will receive a £300 cost of living payment

  • Non-means tested disability benefit claimants will receive a £150

  • An additional £500m will be added to the Household Support Fund

Read more: Rishi Sunak to donate £400 energy discount to charity

Sunak told MPs the Government could not “sit idly by” while families across the country struggled to make ends meet.

However, there was anger from some Conservatives, who said the “windfall tax” on the energy giants – which Labour had been pressing for since the start of the year – was “throwing red meat to socialists”.

There were also concerns that a £400 discount on energy bills for every household in the country, regardless of how well off they are, would further fuel inflation which is already heading towards 10%.

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, said the impact of a one-off series of measures would be limited, and the Chancellor would come under pressure to repeat it in future years.

File photo dated 09/02/22 of Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak alongside his wife Akshata Murthy, who have entered The Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with their joint �730 million fortune, as the Chancellor holds out on fresh support to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis for millions of Britons.
In April, he faced backlash after it emerged his wife was legally claiming non-domiciled status to avoid paying millions in tax. (PA)

“I think the biggest risk here is that the Chancellor will be tempted to do this again and again. If that happens then we really could be in for a bit of trouble,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

“He has got the most extraordinarily difficult decisions to make later this year on public sector pay and then he will be under pressure, I suspect, come this time next year – when energy prices will still be high and households will be struggling – to put more money in.”

The announcement came after Sunak was subject to intense pressure to increase the amount of support for millions of households after inflation hit 9% and the average household energy bill rocketed by £693 in April.

Sunak's intervention also came after the toughest period of his political career so far.

Earlier this month, he received a fixed penalty notice (FPN) for attending an illegal gathering on Downing Street.

In April, he faced backlash after it emerged his wife was legally claiming non-domiciled status to avoid paying millions in tax.

Read more: Second-home owners to get double payout of Rishi Sunak's £400 energy discount

He also came under scrutiny for previously holding a US green card while he was working in government - although an investigation found he had handled the situation as legally required.

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