Corporate profits

Rishi rich: making the poorest pay to protect corporate profits

He’s a multi-millionaire Chancellor with a huge property empire who decides to raise National Insurance and bills while cutting taxes on welfare and bankers, writes Terina Hine

Data released this week by The Food Foundation reported that nearly five million adults experienced food insecurity in the past month, one million of whom spent an entire day eating nothing at all. Two million children do not have access to healthy or affordable food.

All this before tax hikes, soaring energy costs and food prices hit with full force – in April, a 54% rise in energy bills will be accompanied by a 10 % of the National Insurance Tax – and five million households will be pushed into fuel poverty.

Tesco, the UK’s biggest grocer, has warned that food price inflation will hit 5% in the spring once rising energy prices kick in. Price increases will hit the poorest hardest. The poor spend a higher percentage of their income on basic necessities and, as Jack Munroe has exposed, supermarkets target the budget and value lines to protect business profit margins. Tesco’s profit is expected to top £2.6bn this year but food prices will continue to rise.

And it’s not just supermarkets raking in profits while ordinary people worry about eating and heating. BP and Shell announced record gains this week. For BP, profit is at its highest level in eight years at more than £9.4 billion, and Shell has announced an even more enticing sum of $19.3 billion (£14.25). But for all of Labor’s calls for a windfall tax, the Chancellor’s response has been to protect oil company profits rather than help households.

So all households will get a government loan of £200 – with the former hedge fund manager covering that energy prices will fall in the future, bad luck if they don’t. It’s a very small piece – household fuel bills alone could rise by £1,000-2,000 over the course of the year. And it doesn’tit must be like that. According to Greenpeace, a one-off tax could bring in £4 billion; in France, the government forced the public company EDF Energy to limit the increase in energy bills to 4%. Other options are available.

That the Conservatives are protecting big business is nothing new. We watched during the Covid crisis how officials helped each other while the rest of us tried to help each other, but when the country faces the biggest cost of living crisis in a generation, and Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the wealthiest MP in the House of Commons, refuses to offer millions a lifeline, the contrast develops a more personal note.

Rishi Sunak, keen to take over from his hapless boss at No 10, not only has a government salary of £81,932 (MP) + £71,090 (Chancellors salary) but also an estimated net worth of around £200million. Which at least meant he was able to afford the £400,000 leisure complex he had built at his Yorkshire mansion, without borrowing from Tory donors.

Sunak holds a multi-million pound blind trust, supposedly to avoid a conflict of interest, but in doing so also avoiding transparency, and it is unclear how much is held overseas. In addition, he has an extensive property portfolio, which includes his £7million home in Kensington and a nearby apartment for family visitors, as well as a home in California and a Georgian mansion in his constituency. But the vast majority of Sunak’s wealth comes from his wife, Aksharta Murty, and her £430m stake in her father’s Indian tech company, Infosys. Aksharta Murty is richer than the queen.

Infosys has done £22m of taxpayer-funded work since 2015, the year Sunak was elected MP, including a £5m deal with the Medicines and Products Regulatory Agency. health, which was awarded in 2018 and lasted until 2021.

As a government minister, Sunak must declare any financial interest related to his responsibilities. But SunakS’s entry refers solely to his wife’s ownership of a small UK-based venture capital firm, Catamaran Ventures. (When he became an MP, all of Sunak’s shares in Catamaran were transferred to his wife.) There is no mention of Infosys or the multitude of other financial interests and investments that she and her family hold. Although the Treasury says all proper procedures were followed, according to former chairman of the standards in public life committee, Sir Alistair Graham, Sunak took the most minimalist approach possible” to respect the codethe requirements

Murty also owns shares in five other UK-based companies, two of which – luxury outfitters New & Lingwood (dressing gowns just £2,500) and gyms operator Digme – have called for furlough for their staff during the pandemic.

Rishi Sunak, our multi-millionaire Chancellor, with a huge property empire and billionaire family connections, is responsible for scrapping the £20 Universal Credit supplement in October last year to some of the poorest in society. Today, he refuses to come to the aid of millions of people who struggle to feed themselves or heat their homes. Instead, he chooses to protect corporate profits and the wealth of the billionaire class – a political decision, not an economic necessity that shows exactly where his loyalties lie.

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