The petition of residents of the United Kingdom,
Declares that soaring energy bills are driving the biggest fall in living standards in living memory; further that, to ensure that the needs of people are put ahead of the profits of energy giants, we need bold action including freezes to the energy price cap, energy firms brought into public ownership and the rolling-out of a mass programme of home insulation; further that we must also urgently tackle the eye-watering level of profits that North Sea oil and gas companies are making on the backs of higher bills for ordinary people; notes that the Conservative Government’s Windfall Tax is set far too low and lets oil and gas giants off the hook as they are continuing to make vast undeserved profits at levels way beyond what they had ever expected.
The petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urge the Government to review proposals to at least double the Windfall Tax so that oil and gas firms do not make a single penny in excess profits out of this crisis, and use the billions in additional funding to help people through the cost-of-living emergency.
And the petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Richard Burgon, Official Report, 7 September 2022; Vol. 719, c. 347.]
Observations from The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury (James Cartlidge):
The Government thank the hon. Member for Leeds East (Richard Burgon) for submitting the petition alongside the corresponding online petition.
The Government understand that people across the UK are worried about the cost of living and are seeing their disposable incomes decrease as they spend more on essentials.
That is why £37 billion-worth of support for the cost of living is being provided for this financial year: The Government have taken decisive action to support millions of households and businesses with rising energy costs this winter through the energy price guarantee and the energy bill relief scheme.
The energy price guarantee caps the unit price households pay for electricity and gas, which means that a typical household in Great Britain will have no more than the equivalent of £2,500 a year on their energy bills this winter. This is expected to save consumers who use both gas and electricity around £700 this winter.
In addition to the energy price guarantee, millions of the most vulnerable households will receive £1,200 of support this year through the £400 energy bill support scheme, the £150 council tax rebate and the one-off £650 cost of living payment for those on means-tested benefits, with additional support for pensioners and those claiming disability benefits.
Through the EBRS, the Government will provide a discount on wholesale gas and electricity prices for all non-domestic consumers, including UK businesses, and the voluntary and public sectors. This is a temporary measure that will protect them from soaring energy costs and provide them with the certainty they need to plan through the acute crisis this winter. It applies to energy usage from 1 October 2022 to 31 March 2023. It is the Government’s intention that, after this winter, support targets only the most vulnerable businesses. A Treasury-led review will consider how best to deliver these objectives.
The Government are continuing to keep the situation under review and to focus support on the most vulnerable while ensuring we act in a fiscally responsible way.
As well as providing direct financial support for households, the Government have also set out robust plans to improve the efficiency of peoples’ homes. This includes £6.6 billion this Parliament to improve energy efficiency of buildings and our energy security.
The Government have confirmed that they will expand the energy company obligation by £1 billion over the next three years, starting from April 2023. The ECO is a Government energy efficiency scheme in Great Britain to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle fuel poverty. Support will be targeted at those most vulnerable but will also be available for the least efficient homes in lower council tax bands. Combined with previous announcements, ECO is expected to leverage over £5 billion between 2022 and 2026 to support energy efficiency.
The Government are also acting in other areas to support energy efficiency. As announced in the 2022 spring statement, the Government are removing the 5% VAT charge on the installation of energy-efficiency materials in Great Britain over the next five years and permanently reversing restrictions imposed by the Court of Justice of the European Union, removing complex eligibility conditions and reinstating wind and water turbines as qualifying materials. This represents a £280 million tax cut to support investment in energy efficiency over the next five years.
In order to help fund the financial support for UK families, and in response to sharp increases in oil and gas prices over the past year, the energy profits levy was introduced from 26 May 2022. The levy is a new 25% surcharge on the extraordinary profits that the oil and gas sector are making, taking the combined headline tax rate on UK oil and gas profits to 65%. This is an additional and temporary tax which reflects the extraordinary global context. While it is in place, the levy ensures that the windfall profits that the oil and gas companies have received are taxed fairly, but that they have ample incentives to continue to invest at the same time. This is a balanced approach to raise revenue for households facing significant cost of living pressures while encouraging investment from a sector that is vital for a more independent and secure home-grown energy system.
The Government have been clear that they want to see the oil and gas sector reinvest profits to support the economy, jobs and the UK’s energy security. That is why, within the levy, a new “super-deduction” style relief has been introduced to encourage firms to invest in oil and gas extraction in the UK. The Government expect the combination of the levy and this investment allowance to lead to an overall increase in investment.
The Government’s latest projections indicate that the levy is expected to raise over £7 billion in 2022-23, and around £28 billion over the period 2025-26.