The Welsh Liberal Democrats are demanding that the UK Government Chancellor cancels plans to hike the average household energy bill by £500 in April, and cuts people’s bills instead, combined with a new energy support package for businesses, schools and hospitals.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS warned that new energy price hikes would be unbearable for many families across Wales and that she has already seen many businesses in her own region shut due to spiraling energy costs and a looming cliff edge in April.
On top of their windfall tax plan, the Liberal Democrats are now calling for a one-off “bonanza bonus” tax on oil and gas bosses making millions from sky-high energy bills, similar to the bankers’ bonus tax in 2009-10. The latest figures show top executives at BP and Shell got £17 million in salary, bonuses and pensions in just one year. The chief executive of BP received bonuses and benefits of almost £3 million last year, doubling his total annual pay.
Instead of the Conservatives’ plan to hike the energy price guarantee by £500, the Liberal Democrats want to scrap the bill hike and reduce the average energy bill to £1,971 – the level it was last April. This would save the average household an estimated £400 on their energy bills over the next 12 months. For the least well-off households, the Liberal Democrats want extra targeted support, including doubling the Warm Homes Discount to £300.
The party is also calling on the government to U-turn on its plans to slash energy bill support for businesses, schools and hospitals by 85%, and instead extend current levels of support for another six months.
The Liberal Democrat plan would mostly be funded through money already budgeted for energy support, but now unspent due to falling energy prices. Additional funds would be raised by a proper windfall tax on the record profits of oil and gas companies, including scrapping the fossil fuel investment loophole and raising the rate of the windfall tax from 35% to 40%. This could raise at least £15 billion more than the government’s current Energy Profits Levy.
Commenting Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader Jane Dodds MS said:
“The Conservatives’ plan to hike energy bills yet again in April will be devastating to people across Wales who are already struggling to make ends meet following soaring mortgages and rents, shopping bills and tax rises. My region already had one of the highest fuel poverty rates before the invasion of Ukraine and the energy crisis, it is terrifying the struggles some people are facing.
“But it’s not just families, a large number of businesses within my own region have shut recently because of rising energy bills and the cliff edge they currently face in April when Government support is slashed. The closing of these businesses has large knock-on effects on local economies and employment, especially in Wales which is more dependent on small and medium sized businesses than the rest of the UK.
“It is clear that the Conservatives have no plan to deal with this cost of living crisis for people or businesses and they just don’t get it.
“Rishi Sunak must change course now to save families from a cost-of-living cliff edge, by cutting energy bills instead of increasing them. We need Government action, it cannot be right energy companies and their bosses are profiting so massively from the War in Ukraine while ordinary families and businesses are left to suffer.”