Thu, 30 Mar 2023

British PM responds to private pool criticism
14 Mar 2023, 10:13 GMT+10

Rishi Sunak ?absolutely understands? millions are struggling with money no matter how much it costs to heat his pool

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak insisted he understands that millions of people are struggling to make ends meet, particularly with regard to energy bills, telling a BBC reporter on Sunday that his government's successful efforts to reduce people's energy bills were much more important than his spending tens of thousands of pounds out of his own pocket to heat the pool at his North Yorkshire estate.

"I absolutely understand that the number one challenge people are facing is with the cost of living and particularly energy bills," Sunak told BBC journalist Chris Mason in response to a question about whether the amount of money he spent on his private pool made him seem out of touch. "The important thing is what the government does to help people with energy bills."

Pointing to the "windfall tax on energy companies" he secured as chancellor, Sunak boasted, "We have used that money to help reduce people's energy bills."

When Mason pressed him on whether his own massive wealth - he and his wife are worth about Pound 730 million ($889 million) - got in the way of understanding the lives of his constituents, Sunak disagreed, again pointing to the taxes his government had levied on energy companies.

"We've used that money to reduce people's energy bills by Pound 1,000. That's the actions of this government, the actions of me as prime minister and chancellor. I think people can see from that, that I do take this really seriously," Sunak said.

The PM recently had the electrical grid around his property upgraded in order to service the new heated swimming pool he was putting in, according to The Guardian, which described the installation of "a substantial amount of equipment" as well as an entire new connection to the National Grid running across open fields.

While the report stressed that the PM was paying for the work himself, the optics of the well-heeled PM luxuriating in his 12m (40 ft) heated private pool while hundreds of council-run swimming pools have been forced to either close or reduce hours, due to energy costs, have led to questions like Mason's.

Adopted in October, the Energy Price Guarantee holds gas and electricity costs under Pound 2,500 per year ($3,044) for the typical household. A similar Energy Bill Relief Scheme for non-domestic energy users will no longer offer government assistance to public swimming pools starting in April.


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