Advanced economies around the world share the challenge of high inflation from the energy shock, and the UK has been affected by those global factors. The Government have taken significant action to help households with rising energy prices and the cost of living by providing a significant support package totalling £94 billion. That includes supporting households with energy bills by extending the energy price guarantee and removing the premium paid by 4 million households using prepayment meters. Overall, the Government have paid about half of a typical household bill since October 2022.
Many people in the highlands and islands of Scotland will have had their taxes used to help pay for the construction of the gas grid, despite the fact that they are off the gas grid themselves and do not get the benefits of being connected to it. Their area supplies the oil and gas, and now the cheap renewable energy, that is facilitating lower energy bills across Great Britain, yet they are more likely to be fuel poor. To rub salt in the wounds, many pay a surcharge on their electricity bills. When will the UK Government address those inequities?
When the energy profits levy was introduced to help the Government’s support of household energy bills, I welcomed the investment tax allowance that was introduced along with it on new oil and gas for energy security. In recent weeks, I also welcomed the Exchequer Secretary’s announcement in Aberdeen of a price floor in the form of an energy security investment mechanism, at which the EPL will be removed. The devil, of course, will be in the detail. I welcome the Treasury’s ongoing engagement and dialogue with the oil and gas industry, but will the Minister commit to a regular, perhaps quarterly, fiscal forum with the industry, as used to happen prior to covid? Does he agree that Labour’s plans to ban all new oil and gas is based on ideology and not a pragmatic approach to this country’s energy security and net zero?
I can think of few better advocates for the oil and gas industry than my hon. Friend. I was very pleased to meet industry leaders and the chair of the oil and gas forum in Aberdeen recently. We had a very good discussion and I am grateful to the industry for its ongoing engagement with Ministers and officials. I can assure him that the Government are very committed to engaging with the oil and gas sector, as we have been doing for a long time.