Analysis: Whatever his rationale, Rishi Sunak wins praise

Rishi Sunak has announced a new support package that will help millions of people.

Households across England, Scotland and Wales will receive a £400 discount off their energy bills, all funded by a £5 billion tax to be levied on oil and gas giants.

In the face of the soaring cost of living, the Chancellor unveiled a range of measures despite spending weeks arguing against them.

As well as the universal payment, there will also be a £650 payment to more than eight million low-income households, a £300 payment to pensioners, and £150 to those on disability benefits.

Rishi Sunak announced a new support package on Thursday

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Make no bones about it, this is a big deal, and represents the UK Government turning the spending taps back on in a way that would make Jeremy Corbyn feel indulgent.

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All households to get £400 energy bills discount as Rishi Sunak announces tempor...

What’s more, the plans include scrapping the universally disliked measure that would see people loaned support before paying it back.

After months of ministers being sent out to defend this policy, it’s now been ditched entirely, as has the opposition to the windfall tax.

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This is a considerable change of tack, and one that sees the Conservative adopting spending policies it has repeatedly and publicly opposed.

The Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called for a windfall tax in October 2021 and was dismissed. The Commons even voted on introducing one last week, when 300 Tory MPs were ordered to vote against it.

How quickly things change, cynics might say, when there is (another) scandal threatening to engulf the Government.

But regardless of the motivations, this is a package that will be praised. It is far more generous than expected.

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There is so much support, the opposition parties were even slightly unsure how to respond.

Labour said the Chancellor has finally realised the problems the country is facing, but crucially that speaks to the timing, not the substance of the measures.

The Lib Dems focused on other taxes rather than the support, while even the SNP could only manage to say more was needed.

This might be a dead cat, but it has immediately placed the UK public – and its government – on far steadier ground.

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