The government will not rule out a windfall tax despite opposition from ministers

The government has not ruled out imposing a windfall tax on energy companies, despite strong opposition from several ministers.

Education Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the cabinet is looking at “all options” to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, including a one-off levy on companies that have benefited from high global gas and oil prices.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has not ruled out imposing an unexpected tax on energy producers, but ministers including Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Brandon Lewis, Sajid Javid and Jacob Rees-Mogg have criticized the measure as ineffective.

Nadhim Zahawi said the Cabinet is considering “every option” to ease the cost of living crisis (James Manning/PA).

(PA wire)

Asked whether Sophy Ridge should impose a windfall tax on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said: “We will be looking at all options.

“I will examine every option with the Chancellor, the Prime Minister and the cabinet.”

However, he spoke about the impact this could have on older people, adding: “If you impose a windfall tax, (companies) will probably have to cut or take away their dividend.

“Who gets the dividend? retirees through their pension fund.

International Trade Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Yui Mok/PA).

(PA wire)

“Investments have to be real, which I think Rishi (Sunak) will require from all these companies and to see a roadmap for that investment. We don’t take options off the table.”

International Trade Minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the government is encouraging energy producers to invest their profits in green alternatives rather than levying the tax.

She told Times Radio: “As the Chancellor said, it’s really important that he’s able to keep tabs on everything.

“He has made it very clear that he wants these energy companies to invest in the clean energies of the future because they have unexpectedly made higher profits from these price increases.”

E.ON UK chief executive Michael Lewis urged ministers to “tax the broadest shoulders” (James Manning/PA)

(PA wire)

Describing a windfall tax as a “very short-term measure,” Ms Trevelyan added, “I don’t think a windfall tax is the most efficient way to do anything, I don’t think it’s moving fast.”

Former Chancellor George Osborne said he believed the government would introduce a windfall tax.

Asked about the tax on Channel 4’s Andrew Neil show, he said: “I think he (Mr Sunak) will do one, but I have to say it doesn’t really address the serious tax problem the country is facing in the next two or three years.

“It’s a one-off portion of money. They have an interesting dynamic where number 10 doesn’t seem to want one and number 11 wants one.”

Meanwhile, Michael Lewis, chief executive officer of E.ON UK, has urged the government to “tax the broadest shoulders”.

He told BBC One’s Sunday Morning television program that around a million of E.ON’s eight million UK accounts are already in arrears and this is expected to rise by 50% in October.

Mr Lewis said increasing Universal Credit payments and introducing a “benefit tariff” for energy companies would reduce the cost of bills for those struggling to pay them.

In response to E.ON’s forecast of the number of people likely to be in arrears by October, Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves renewed Labor’s calls for the government to introduce a windfall tax as a matter of urgency.

Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves urged the government to ‘act now’ (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

(PA wire)

She said: “These comments underscore how tough the cost-of-living crisis is for families and how delays by the Conservatives will make the situation worse.

“The government must act now by introducing a windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits to bring down bills.”

Jesse Norman, a former Conservative minister, said he supports a “temporary and well-defined” windfall tax that would be “fair” on consumers and believes former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher would have imposed it if she were in charge had.

He said on Twitter, “As several current and former oil and gas CEOs have noted, this will not materially change companies’ investment plans or incentives to invest.”

“It is also completely wrong to say that a levy or tax of this kind would be unconservative,” he added.

“On the contrary, it would be both ethically sound and pragmatic.

“For what it’s worth, while she rightly would not have liked the idea very much, I have no doubt Margaret Thatcher would have levied a limited and temporary tax of this nature in her pragmatic heyday.”

Labor has also warned schools in England could be paying an estimated £1billion a year in energy bills, taking money away from pupils’ learning.

The party said the children’s future was at risk, citing government data showing energy costs for state schools after a projected 93% rise by the end of 2021.

According to data compiled by the House of Commons Library, secondary schools spent on average over £161,000 on energy, while primary schools spent around £32,000. The government will not rule out a windfall tax despite opposition from ministers

Bobby Allyn

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