Peston skewers Rishi over failure to spend £9bn on poor if you believed in levelling up!

Rishi Sunak grilled by Robert Peston on ‘levelling up’

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Rishi Sunak held a press conference to announce a rebate on council tax and a £200 discount off energy bills as Ofgem increases the energy price cap to deal with rising costs. The £9billion package will target everyone in the country to help with the cost of living crisis. But Robert Peston wanted to know why the funds were not entirely targetted at the poorest in the country and delivered a sly jibe by stating “if you believed in levelling up, sure that is what you would do!”

Energy bills are set to rise after Ofgem announced a price cap increase of £694, making the average bill to £1,971.

Mr Sunak hopes a one-off discount and a council tax rebate would help keep the cost of living down which would apply for 80 percent of households.

But Mr Peston wanted to know whether the Chancellor had considered targeting the poorest in the country with the measures so they do not fall into poverty.

The ITV journalist said: “As you have announced, you’re deploying something like £9billion in total and everyone will be helped a bit.

“Bit there is still going to be a price rise of £350 on average.

“You know it is the poorest third of people who are hurt most by the energy price rises.

“Why didn’t you deploy that £9billion and simply help the poorest, surely that is what you would do if you believed in levelling up?”

Mr Sunak responded by saying middle-income families were also going to “feel the pinch” with the price rises and wanted to introduce measures that helped everyone.

He added the measures would target the A to D bands in the country meaning those on the higher bands – who would be earning more money – do not receive help.

Mr Sunak also said the increase of the national living wage would also put more money in people’s pockets and he would be considering making homes more energy-efficient.

The measures announced on Thursday would look at ways to limit the impact of the price hike on poor and middle-income families.

All homes would see £200 off their energy bills in October but would pay it back by £40 a year over five years from 2023.

Homes in council tax bands A to D would get a rebate of £150 in April which they do not need to pay back.

The warm homes discount would also see its eligibility criteria increase by a third to three million which would save £150 off bills in October.

Local authorities would also receive £150million to help support the poorest in their community.

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