Rishi Sunak has become the first top politician to be named to the Sunday Times rich list since its inception in 1989, just as the chancellor faces pressure to help ease the cost of living crisis facing households.
In the week that inflation hit a 40-year high, sparking new fears that the UK was tipping towards a recession, Sunak and his wife Akshata Murty entered The Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with their joint fortune. of £730 million.
His inclusion among the 250 richest people in the country also comes after his finances came under intense scrutiny when it emerged that Murty has a non-domiciled status that allows him to reduce his UK tax bill.
The timing couldn’t have been worse for the ambitious politician, who earlier this week promised a tax cut for big business but conspicuously only said he was “prepared” to help families.
Sunak had been seen as one of the frontrunners in any leadership competition to replace Boris Johnson, but his position was severely affected by the scrutiny of his family’s exorbitant wealth.
The chancellor has resisted calls to impose a windfall tax on high-profit oil and gas giants to help finance measures to ease the crisis, as well as facing demands to cut taxes as part of a new support package.
On Friday morning, the Sunday Times Rich List revealed that the couple were listed at 222nd on the list with a joint forecast of £730m, boosted by Murty’s £690m stake in Infosys.
It was estimated that Murty’s non-dom status could have saved him £20m in tax on dividends from his shares in Infosys, an Indian IT company founded by his father.
He later agreed to pay UK tax on his worldwide income.
Sunak was cleared of breaching the ministerial code by the prime minister’s standards adviser after considering the fiscal issues.
Many on social media were quick to point out how further publicity of his wealth puts Sunak in a sticky spot.
But Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab praised Sunak on Times Radio.
He said: “Rishi Sunak is a fantastic example of someone who has been successful in business and who has come to make a huge impact in public service.
“I think we want more of those people.
“I think it’s fantastic that you have someone of British Indian origin, showing everyone in our country that you can rise to the top of politics.
“And frankly, I think if I understood correctly, The Sunday Times Rich List was a reflection not only of him, but of his wife as well.
“And to be honest with you, his wife is an incredibly successful businesswoman in her own right.”