Government will not rule out windfall tax despite opposition from ministers

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said the Cabinet is considering ‘all the options’ to combat the cost-of-living crisis.

22 May 2022

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

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has said the Cabinet is considering “all the options” to combat the cost-of-living crisis, including a one-off levy on firms which have benefited from globally high gas and oil prices.

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

When asked about imposing a windfall tax by Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said: “We will look at all the options.

Sunday Morning
Nadhim Zahawi said the Cabinet is considering ‘every option’ to alleviate the cost-of-living crisis (James Manning/PA)

“I with the Chancellor, Prime Minister and Cabinet will look at every option.”

But he spoke about the impact this could have on elderly people, adding: “If you apply a windfall tax, (companies) will probably have to reduce or take away their dividend.

“Who receives the dividend? Pensioners through their pension funds.

“Investment has to be real, which is what I think Rishi (Sunak) will demand of all these companies and to see a roadmap towards that investment. We’re not taking any options off the table.”

Cabinet Meeting
International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan (Yui Mok/PA).

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said the Government is encouraging energy producers to invest their profits in green alternatives rather than imposing the tax.

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

“He has set out a very clear position that he wants these energy companies, as they have made unexpectedly higher profits because of these price hikes, that they use that to invest in the clean energies of the future.”

Ms Trevelyan described a windfall tax as a “very short-term measure”, adding: “I don’t think a windfall tax is the most efficient way to do anything, I don’t think it drives forward at a pace.”

Meanwhile, Michael Lewis, chief executive of E.ON UK, has called on the Government to “tax those with the broadest shoulders”.

He told BBC One’s Sunday Morning TV show that approximately one million of E.ON’s eight million UK accounts are already in arrears, and this is expected to rise by 50% come October.

Mr Lewis said increasing Universal Credit payments and imposing a “social tariff” on energy companies would ease the cost of bills for those struggling to pay them.

Responding to E.ON’s projection for the number of people expected to be in arrears by October, shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves renewed Labour’s calls for the Government to urgently impose a windfall tax.

She said: “These comments underline how tough the cost-of-living crisis is for families, and how Conservative delays will see the situation get even worse.

“The Government must act now, by bringing in a windfall tax on oil and gas producer profits to cut bills.”

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