Rishi Sunak has become the first frontline politician to be named in 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.
On the week inflation hit a 40-year high, prompting further fears about the UK tipping into a recession, Sunak and wife Akshata Murty entered The Sunday Times Rich List for the first time with their joint £730 million fortune.
Their listing among the nation’s 250 wealthiest people also comes after their finances came under intense scrutiny when it emerged Murty holds non-domiciled status allowing her to reduce her UK tax bill.
The timing could not have been worse for the ambitious politician, who earlier this week promised a tax cut for big business but conspicuously only said he was “standing ready” to help families.
Sunak had been seen as a frontrunner in any leadership contest to replace Boris Johnson but his standing was severely dented by the scrutiny of his family’s exorbitant wealth.
The chancellor has been resisting calls to impose a windfall tax on the high profits of oil and gas giants to help fund 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 the couple featured at 222 in the list with the joint forecast of £730 million, driven by Murty’s £690 million stake in Infosys.
It was estimated Murty’s non-dom status could have saved her £20 million in taxes on dividends from her shares in Infosys, an Indian IT company founded by her father.
She later agreed to pay UK taxes on her worldwide income.
Sunak was cleared of breaching the ministerial code by the prime minister’s standards adviser after considering the tax affairs.
Many on social media were quick to point out how further publicity of his wealth puts Sunak in a tricky spot.
But deputy prime minister Dominic Raab praised Sunak on Times Radio.
He said: “Rishi Sunak is a fantastic example of someone who’s been successful in business who’s come in to make a big impact in public service.
“I think we want more of those people.
“I think it’s fantastic that you’ve got someone of British Indian origin, showing all people in our country that you can get to the top of politics.
“And frankly, I think if I understood correctly, The Sunday Times Rich List was a reflection of not just him, but his wife.
“And to be honest with you, his wife is an incredibly successful entrepreneur in her own right.”