Keir Starmer blasts Rishi Sunak for 'conning' Brits with energy rebate promises

Sir Keir Starmer spoke out against the Chancellor of the Exchequer's plans to give households £200 off their energy bills

Published Last updated

Sir Keir Starmer has criticised Rishi Sunak's energy rebate proposals in the House of Commons at Prime Minister's Questions on Wednesday, saying his rebate is " a con".

The Labour leader said "it's insulting people's intelligence by pretending it's giving them a discount."

On Thursday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a multibillion-pound package to help households through the energy bills hike.

However, most of the Chancellor’s support is a loan which will have to be paid back by households.

They will originally get £200 off their bills, but bills will then go up by £40 per year for five years to claw the money back.

Families will still face significant bill rises from this April, and higher bills for many years to come to pay off the cost of the Chancellor’s efforts to tackle the cost of living crisis, new research suggests.

An overnight analysis by the Resolution Foundation of the announcements made yesterday by Ofgem, the Chancellor and the Bank of England found that the poorest fifth of households are still set to experience a major rise in energy costs from April.

The average proportion of their spending on energy bills will increase from 7% to 10% even after yesterday’s package of support, said the think tank.

It also indicated that more than one in 10 of the poorest households in England – 640,000 in total – live in Band E+ properties and therefore will not be entitled to a £150 rebate on council tax bills.

More than a quarter of households across London, the South East and the South West will not be eligible for the council tax rebate compared with fewer than one in 10 households across the North, said the foundation.

Mike Brewer, chief economist at the Resolution Foundation, said: “Yesterday the Chancellor announced a bold plan to limit the impact of soaring energy bills, but by not targeting families most in need of support, and by trying to minimise the cost of support to the public purse, families will still face significant bill rises from this April, and higher bills for many years to come to pay off the cost of the Chancellor’s new bills loan scheme.

“Repurposing the council tax system to pay lump-sum grants to most households is another innovative policy from HM Treasury.

“But council tax band is a crude measure of need, and the result is that 640,000 of the poorest households will end up getting less help than some of the richest households in Britain.

“The £350 energy bill rebates will soften the cost of living crunch this spring but families across Britain are still set for recession-era levels of squeezed budgets this year, with the average family seeing their incomes fall by £1,000 over the course of 2022.”