Ruth Cadbury has attacked the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s plans to deal with the energy crisis, branding them “too timid” to deal with the combined cost of living increases facing the country.
Speaking in parliament the Brentford and Isleworth MP urged Rishi Sunak to take urgent action, after Ofgem announced energy bills could rise by up to £2,000 a year.
She criticised the Chancellor for framing his new energy loans as ‘rebate’ or ‘discount’ when customers will have to pay them back over five years.
She also called on the Chancellor to introduce a windfall tax on energy companies such as Shell, which recently announced profits of nearly £20 billion.
The Chancellor announced all households would receive £200 off their energy bills in October. But the ‘discount’ needs to be paid back by £40 a year over five years from 2023. In addition, council taxpayers in England in bands A to D would receive a rebate of £150 from their bills in April, which will not have to be paid back.
Local authorities are also receiving £150m to make discretionary payments to the neediest and the number of low income households eligible for the warm homes discount – worth £150 from October – is to be increased by a third to 3 million.
LB Hounslow & LB Ealing have recently announced plans to increase Council Tax by the maximum amount allowed, a rise of almost 3%.
“Far too timid and far too late”
Speaking after her question in the Commons, Ruth said:
‘‘Today’s announcement from the Chancellor is far too timid and far too late to help families struggling rising cost of energy. It’s not fair that today’s announcement will see people waiting until October for a £200 loan, which they will then be forced to pay back. People locally can’t afford to wait over six months for a loan – they need urgent action today. The Chancellor’s statement also offered nothing for businesses, or schools, which are also faced with unaffordable energy bills.
“That’s why I have called on the Government to take urgent action by cutting VAT on energy bills- as the Prime Minister promised in 2016. On top of this the Government should expand the warm homes program to cover more families and ensure they have direct financial support. Additionally we need to see urgent action to insulate homes across the country, which would reduce bills and create well paid green jobs.
“This could be funded through a windfall tax on the energy producers who’ve made huge profits from the energy crisis. Previous Chancellors from both major parties have introduced windfall taxes in the past. I know how worried many people locally will be about this huge spike in prices and I will continue to campaign for the Government to do more to support people at this difficult time.’’
Responding to Ruth’s question, Rishi Sunak said:
“Without government intervention the increase in the price cap would leave the average household having to find an extra £693. The actions I’m announcing today will provide to the vast majority of households just over half of that amount, £350.
“In total the government is going to help around 28 m households this year. Taken together this is a plan to help with the cost of living worth around £9bn.”
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