Rishi Sunak insists 'this Government will never stop trying to help people' as he reveals new cost-of-living package

Mr Sunak promised the Government will "not sit idly by" in the face of the inflationary squeeze

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Chancellor Rishi Sunak addressed the House of Commons this afternoon, with new measures to mitigate the cost-of-living crisis.

He told MPs "this Government will never stop trying to help people, to fix problems where we can, to do what is right, as we did throughout the pandemic".

The Southampton-born Stanford graduate launched a range of new economic policies, designed to curb the squeeze on living standards, including a windfall tax and a swathe of one-off payments for vulnerable Brits.

He said: "We need to make sure that for sure those for the whom the struggle is too hard... they are supported."

Statement at a glance:

  • Temporary windfall tax on oil and gas giants with ‘new investment allowance’ confirmed
  • New levy set to raise £5billion over next year, Chancellor claims
  • Eight million of lowest income households to be sent one-off £650 payment
  • Pensioners will receive one-off £300 payment
  • One-off disability cost-of-living payment of £150 announced
  • £200 for energy bills now a grant that no longer needs to be paid back, and raised to £400
Rishi Sunak addressing the Commons chamber.
Rishi Sunak addressing the Commons chamber.
The Chancellor speaks towards the Deputy Speaker, Dame Eleanor Laing.
The Chancellor speaks towards the Deputy Speaker, Dame Eleanor Laing.

The 42-year-old emphasised that the Government "will not sit idly by" in the face of the inflationary challenges the economy is facing, insisting "we will get through this."

Mr Sunak was heckled with shouts of “what took you so long” and “about time” after he began his statement by noting that high inflation is causing “acute distress” for people in the country, adding: “I know they are worried, I know people are struggling.”

The former Goldman Sachs analyst confirmed a temporary windfall tax on oil and gas giants, but said it would include a “new investment allowance” to incentivise the reinvestment of profits.

"The oil and gas sector is making extraordinary profits not as the result of recent changes to risk taking or innovation or or efficiency as the result of surging global commodity prices driven in part by Russia’s war," he said.

"For that reason I am sympathetic to the argument to tax those profits fairly."

Mr Sunak sought to reassure sceptical members of his own party, concerned with the impact of the windfall tax on investment.

He added: "It is possible to both tax extraordinary profits fairly and incentivise investment."

He also pledged a "one-off cost of living payment of £650" for eight million Britons with the lowest incomes.

The package, which is "worth over £5billion", is designed "to give people certainty that we are standing by them at this challenging time".

A gas hob with a bill from British Gas
A gas hob with a bill from British Gas
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.
Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Mr Sunak said uprating of benefits in the same timeframe could only be done for those receiving Universal Credit, adding: “Our policy will provide a larger average payment this year of £650 whereas uprating the same benefits by nine percent would be worth only on average £530.”

On help for pensioners, Mr Sunak told the Commons: “From the autumn we will send over eight million pensioner households who receive the winter fuel payment an extra one-off pensioner cost-of-living payment of £300.

“Disabled people also face extra costs in their day-to-day lives, like having energy-intensive equipment around the home or workplace.

“So to help the six million people who receive non-means tested disability benefits we will send them, from September, an extra one-off disability cost-of-living payment worth £150.

“Many disabled people will also receive the payment of £650 I’ve already announced, taking their total cost-of-living payments to £800.”

"We are on the side of hard-working families."

"Universal" support for households was also outlined.

He said: “We are meeting our responsibility to provide the most help to those on the lowest incomes. I believe that is fair and I’m confident the House will agree.

“But there are many other families who do not require state support in normal times, they are also facing challenging times. Is it fair to leave them unsupported? The answer must surely be no.

“While it is impossible for the Government to solve every problem we can and will ease the burden as we help the entire crisis through the worst of this crisis.”

Describing previous Government plans to provide all households with £200 off their energy bills from October, with the cost repaid over five years, he said: “Since then the outlook for energy prices has changed, I’ve heard people’s concerns over the impact of these repayments on future bills, so I’ve decided that those repayments will be cancelled.”

“This support is now unambiguously a grant,” he said, adding “the £200 of support for household energy bills will be doubled to £400 for everyone”.

The Chancellor also told the Commons: “I trust the British people and I know they understand no Government can solve every problem, particularly the complex and global challenge of inflation."

He added: "We will turn this moment of difficulty into a springboard for economic renewal and growth."

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves claimed Labour are "winning the battle of ideas" after Mr Sunak's announcement.

The Opposition called for the windfall tax policy some months ago.