Liberal Democrat parliamentary campaigner for Lewes constituency, James MacCleary, has today written to the Secretary of State for Energy Kwasi Kwarteng demanding that he backs the party’s call for a 'Robin Hood tax' on the super-profits of oil and gas firms, to raise money to support local families facing soaring energy costs.
The proposed one-off levy could raise over £5 billion to help support families in our area as their energy bills sky-rocket.
The Liberal Democrats say the money raised through this one-off tax could fund a substantial package of emergency support to help thousands of people facing higher bills. James has also called on the government to review the way in which energy companies are taxed in the long term and consider overhauling social security to properly explore ideas like universal basic income to ensure everyone can afford basic needs including heating their homes.
In the meantime, the Lib Dems 'Robin Hood Tax' would include doubling the Warm Homes Discount and extending it to all those receiving Universal Credit or Pension Credit, giving 9,643 households in Seaford, Newhaven, Lewes, Polegate and surrounding villages £300 each off their heating bills this year.
The party is also calling for the winter fuel allowance to be doubled, benefitting 13,930 pensioners in the area and helping them keep their homes warm. On top of this, funding would be spent on helping people insulate their homes to slash heating bills in the long term.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary campaigner for Lewes constituency, James MacCleary said:
"The government's failure to take steps to confront the cost of living crisis that their own policies have created is shameful. We need urgent and strong action to help people cope with spiralling energy costs. That is why I have written to the Secretary of State on behalf of residents demanding action.
“A one-off Robin Hood tax on gas and oil bosses would provide vital funding to support families in our area who are facing crippling energy price hikes. This must be followed up with a widespread review of how energy companies are taxed to ensure that they are paying their fair share.
"Conservatives like our MP, Maria Caulfield, have buried their heads in the sand and refused to take any steps to address the cost of living crisis. Hard pressed families are seeing costs for basics rising rapidly. The answer from Caulfield and her government colleagues is to increase National Insurance so that working people will have ever-less money available to pay ever-increasing bills.
“The Conservatives cannot be allowed to continue to ignore this crisis that they have created. This one off tax will ensure that, for this winter at least, pensioners and local families can pay their bills. The Government cannot look the other way any longer while families struggle to get by.”
Text of the letter:
Rt Hon Kwasi Kwarteng MP
Secretary of State
Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
1 Victoria Street
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to you to seek your support for a one-off levy on energy firms to help address the sharp rises in energy costs being experienced by residents here in my constituency of Lewes. I also would like to know whether you have plans to look more widely at the way in which energy companies are taxed which is clearly currently inadequate.
It recently emerged that Russian energy giant Gazprom’s trading arm, based in London, has cashed in a £179 million dividend. Meanwhile, the boss of BP has described his company as a 'cash machine' after soaring oil and gas prices boosted its profits to £2.4 billion in the third quarter of 2021 alone.
A windfall tax would be a one-off levy on firms who have made huge profits from record high gas prices. This would include oil and gas producers along with energy traders such as Gazprom’s trading arm that profit from betting on fluctuations in energy prices.
I would also call on you to urgently instigate a wide-ranging review of the way in which energy companies are taxed. This levy is an important emergency measure but we need widespread structural reform in order to ensure energy companies are properly contributing.
The proposed one-off levy would raise an estimated £5 billion from companies that are making record profits from soaring energy prices, this could fund:
Doubling and extending the Warm Homes Discount (£2bn): Taking £300 a year off the heating bills of around 7.5 million vulnerable and low income households, by more than doubling the Warm Homes Discount and extending it to all those on Universal Credit and Pension Credit. This would also reduce energy bills for all households across the country, as currently the Warm Homes Discount is paid for by other customers rather than through taxing the super-profits of oil and gas companies.
Doubling the Winter Fuel Allowance (£1.9bn): Giving up to £600 a year to 11.3 million elderly pensioners to help with their heating bills, through a one-off doubling of the Winter Fuel Allowance. Pensioners are currently facing a £208 real-terms cut to the state pension next year due to the Conservative government’s decision to scrap the triple lock. This would cost an estimated £1.9 billion.
A new ten-year home insulation scheme (£500m): This would be spent on reducing people’s energy bills in the long-term through an emergency home insulation programme to upgrade poorly insulated UK homes - including through fully funded grants for those in fuel poverty and on low incomes. This would cost an estimated £500 million in the next year.
Supporting energy intensive businesses (£500m): This funding would be used to support businesses and protect jobs in energy-intensive industries, while helping firms reduce their need for energy in the long-term.
This would provide enormous amounts of support to the thousands of residents in my area who are facing a crippling 50% increase to their energy bills.
Since 2015 the Conservatives have failed to take action on making our homes warmer. We have seen energy efficiency standards for new homes scrapped and a complete failure to insulate millions of homes and cut people’s energy bills.
Now, we need a substantial package of support that provides immediate support to those struggling to get by, while helping people insulate their homes to slash heating bills in the long term.
I look forward to your urgent response.
Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Spokesperson for Lewes