Liz Truss must scrap the energy price cap rise and call a general election
The new Prime Minister's in-tray is stacking up. Households are facing a catastrophic increase in energy prices this autumn and so far we have heard very little about what Liz Truss is planning, apart from a commitment to protect the profits of oil and gas giants at the expense of the British public.
Liz Truss's first actions should be to scrap the energy price cap rise and call a general election to allow the British public to have their say on our next Prime Minister.
Truss's refusal to extend the windfall tax will burden working people across the country
Tomorrow the new Prime Minister will, hopefully, announce support for households and businesses in the UK. For a start, Liz Truss must extend the windfall tax on the profits of oil and gas giants who have been raking in super profits whilst the British people suffer from soaring bills and eye-watering inflation. Her refusal to extend the windfall tax will instead burden working people across the country.
Using this money, Truss must restore the zero carbon homes standard for new build homes. Back in 2019 it was estimated that this standard saved homes £200. This figure has soared under the new price cap and is a shocking example of the Conservative’s abysmal short-sighted approach to home insulation. It is typical of the Conservatives approach and refusal to look into the future.
To accompany this, Truss must introduce a 10-year retro-fit insulation plan funded by this windfall tax which would bring household bills down whilst saving energy for millions.
Let’s face it, lives are at risk this winter without government support to tackle soaring energy bills. Earlier this year, a constituent wrote to me to say that they spend all day in bed to keep warm. Others have said that they are planning to cook food on an open fire because they are worried about the cost of using their oven or microwave and the impact this might have on their energy bills.
There is no other option but for energy prices to be frozen, then we need a proper plan to be put in place to bring bills down in the long run. Liz Truss is expected to freeze energy bills in an announcement tomorrow. This is reportedly going to be paid for by taxpayers or through higher energy bills over the next decade – not a windfall tax.
It is no secret that the Liberal Democrats were the first party to call for energy bills to be frozen and paid for through a windfall tax on oil and gas companies making record profits. BP and Shell made nearly £30bn in profits in the first two quarters of this year alone, yet Liz Truss is refusing to tax them and is instead expecting households to pick up the bill.
We have also proposed a scheme that would allow small businesses to apply for government grants covering 80 per cent of the increase in their energy bills for one year, up to a maximum of £50,000. The proposals would help 1.4 million small businesses across the country.
This would cost roughly £10bn and could be met by reversing the Conservatives’ planned tax cuts for big banks who are seeing their profits grow with rising interest rates. Small businesses are struggling, with one business in my constituency having their energy bill increase from £14,000 to over £100,000.
Local high streets are at risk of being devastated by spiralling energy costs and turned into ghost towns unless urgent action is taken. But the Conservatives don’t seem to care. Local shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars who survived the pandemic could now be taken out by soaring energy costs.
Let's be clear, lives are at risk this winter. Liz Truss must extend the windfall tax, cancel the October price cap increase, put together a long-term plan to tackle the cost of living crisis, and draw up support for small businesses.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat MP for Bath and spokesperson for energy and climate change and transport.
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