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THE government must “get real” on profiteering and increase windfall taxes on oil and gas companies, campaigners and unions urged today as Shell revealed its highest profits in its history.
The oil giant said that core profits rocketed to $84.3 billion (£68.1bn) in 2022 in what is one of the highest gains ever recorded by a British company.
The public face a 40 per cent hike in energy bills from April on top of soaring bills and the cost-of-living crisis.
Following pressure, the government launched a windfall tax, called the energy profits levy, on bumper profits made by producers last year.
Shell said it was due to pay $134 million (£109m) through the levy for 2022, representing just a fraction of its mammoth profit.
It said it expects to pay more than $500m (£405.7m) this year.
But it also announced that it will pay $4bn (£3.2bn) to its shareholders through a new share buyback programme, and will increase dividend payments by 15 per cent.
The TUC called the “obscene” profits an insult to working families.
General secretary Paul Nowak said: “The time for excuses is over. The government must impose a larger windfall tax on energy companies. Billions are being left on the table.
“Instead of holding down the pay of paramedics, teachers, firefighters and millions of other hard-pressed public servants, ministers should be making Big Oil and Gas pay their fair share.”
Mr Nowak said that there is nothing stopping Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt from making the political choice to do so.
Trade unionists have been causing waves across the country in recent months by taking strike action to demand better pay amid the cost-of-living crisis.
Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said Shell’s dividends would “go a long way” towards paying for a 10 per cent wage hike for NHS workers.
She said: “Is the government going to get real about taking on profiteering or, as usual, continue its false propaganda that it’s workers’ wage rises that are causing inflation?”
RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said that the oil and gas industry is “out of control” and called for public ownership.
Campaigners called for more taxes on oil and gas companies, with Debt Justice executive director Heidi Chow warning that the profits are being built “on the back of” millions of households pushed into poverty.
“The government needs to expand the windfall tax on energy producers like Shell to pay off the £2.5bn of energy debt that UK households have already taken on,” Ms Chow said.
And Global Justice Now head of policy Dorothy Guerrero hit out at Shell for “lining the pockets” of shareholders made from a global energy crisis, calling for a new polluters’ tax.
Shadow climate change secretary Ed Miliband accused Mr Sunak of being “too weak” to stand up to oil and gas interests, adding: “The government is letting the fossil fuel companies making bumper profits off the hook with their refusal to implement a proper windfall tax.”
Green Party energy spokesman Mark Ruskell said the “sickening” profits of oil and gas companies underline the urgent need for a shift to renewables and support households in fuel poverty.
Downing Street said the government “absolutely” understands the anger but added there were no plans to increase the windfall tax.
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