Margaret Greenwood, the MP for Wirral West, has said in a parliamentary debate that it “cannot be right” that people are having to choose between heating and eating while profits at the world’s biggest energy companies continue to soar.
In May, the government announced a temporary levy – effectively a windfall tax – on the extraordinary profits of oil and gas companies. Labour had been calling for a windfall tax since January and urged the government to backdate the levy to the start of the year, but the government refused to do so.
There are measures within the levy which allow energy companies to shield 91p in every £1 of their profits from the new tax if they invest the profits in fossil fuel extraction in the UK.
Margaret Greenwood MP said in the debate that “promoting fossil fuel extraction instead of investment in renewables is irresponsible as we face the climate emergency, and it is an insult to young people and to future generations.”
This week, it was reported that BP made £7.1 billion between July and September of this year, which is more than double its profit for the same period last year.
It was also reported that another energy giant, Shell, has paid nothing under the government’s levy so far and that it does not expect to throughout 2022.
Margaret Greenwood MP also drew attention to reports that support for energy bills available under government schemes is not reaching many households who use prepayment meters. She called on the government to make sure that everyone is able to receive the support that they are entitled to.
Speaking after the debate, the Labour Wirral West MP said, “Energy is a necessity for all of us, yet people are at the mercy of big business when it comes to whether or not they can afford to heat their homes or run their businesses.
“The profits of oil and gas companies are eye-watering.
“It took the government more than four months to bring in a windfall tax after Labour first called for one. Why did it take them so long to act, and why didn’t they backdate the levy to January?
“Even when they introduced the levy, they allowed energy giants to shield 91p in every £1 of profit from the new tax if they invested in oil and gas extraction in the UK.
“Yet again, we see smoke and mirrors from the government when it comes to making big business pay tax.
“The government should bring forward a proper levy on profits to make sure that super rich oil and gas companies pay their fair share, instead of allowing them to shield their money from taxation.
“Public ownership of services is understandably very popular, as a number of surveys and polls of members of the public have shown.
“Labour has a plan for a new publicly owned, clean generation company called GB Energy which will harness the power of wind, tidal and solar energy. Of the 10 countries in the world who are leading the clean energy transition, only the UK does not currently have a public generation company.
“The government should reflect on that and be bold as a Labour government would be because the climate emergency is happening right now.
“They must also make sure that everyone who is entitled to energy bill support under government schemes is able to claim that support.
“Many people on prepayment meters are currently missing out on support that they are entitled to via the Energy Price Guarantee.
“Anyone with a prepayment meter should be receiving a discount on their bills either as an automatic credit when they top up at their usual top-up point, or as a voucher which they will receive from their supplier by text message, email or post by the 14th day of each month.
“I would urge anyone on a prepayment meter who is having difficulty claiming this support to contact their supplier for assistance.”