PM reacts to news that he will spend tens of thousands of dollars upgrading the local electricity grid to meet power demands.
Rishi Sunak has rejected suggestions he is detached from the everyday concerns of the public after it emerged his new heated swimming pool uses so much energy that the local electricity network had to be upgraded to meet its power demands.
The Guardian reported that more equipment had been installed in North Yorkshire to provide more capacity from the National Grid to Sunak’s constituency home, even though many Britons are attempting to reduce their energy use in response to rising electricity bills.
The prime minister, however, said that he “absolutely understands” that millions of people are struggling with the cost of living, in particular their energy bills, and that the “important thing” was that the government was helping them.
The government’s pound 2,500 energy price guarantee will likely be extended by the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, for an additional three months in the budget on Wednesday, in an effort to keep bill increases to a minimum.
On a trip to the US, the prime minister was questioned by Chris Mason, the political editor of the BBC, about whether it gave the impression that he was out of touch for personally funding an estimated tens of thousands of pounds worth of electricity upgrade work to heat his private pool.
Sunak replied: “The actions taken by the government to assist citizens with their energy costs are crucial. What I announced as chancellor is a windfall tax on energy companies, because the profits they’re making as a result of the [Ukraine] war, I thought it was right that we tax those. That money was used to lower people’s energy costs.”
Pressed on whether he was able to understand the public’s day-to-day lives given his immense wealth, he added: “I am fully aware that the cost of living, particularly energy costs, is the biggest problem people are currently facing.
“So what do I do? We tax energy companies more, and we’ve used that money to reduce people’s energy bills by £1,000. That sums up the actions of this administration and my own as prime minister and chancellor. I believe that makes it clear to everyone that I do take this matter seriously.”
Sunak built a heated pool, a gym, and a tennis court on the property of the manor house he stays at on the weekends. The 12-meter pool was finished at the same time that many council-run baths, including those in his neighborhood, had to shorten their hours due to rising energy prices.
The prime minister’s spokesman declined to comment on the renovations taking place at his residence in his district.
The energy price guarantee keeps gas and electricity rates low so that the average household bill is under £2,500 per year. This cap was set to increase to £3,000 per year starting in April, but the Treasury wants to keep it lower until wholesale prices have decreased even further.
A Labour spokesman said: “That the energy crisis doesn’t apply in this instance when it does in so many others is a slap in the face to millions of hard-working families.”