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UNIONS repeated calls for a windfall tax on hugely profitable energy firms today after Tesco’s chairman said there is an overwhelming need for the move to address the cost-of-living crisis.
John Allan told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that some of the supermarket giant’s customers are asking checkout staff to stop scanning items once their bill reaches a certain limit.
Speaking ahead of the Queen’s Speech, which contained little in terms of new policy to tackle rocketing inflation and falling real-terms wages, Mr Allan said: “It’s harder for people to mitigate energy than it is with food.
“I think there’s an overwhelming case for a windfall tax on profits from energy producers.”
British Gas owner Centrica confirmed today that it expects to record another bumper profit this year after raking in £118 million in 2021, 44 per cent more than the previous year.
The firm, which used fire-and-rehire tactics to foist inferior contracts on hundreds of workers last year, told shareholders that it has “managed increased commodity price volatility well” in recent months.
BP and Shell were reporting record profits even before last month’s 54 per cent rise in the energy price cap, as the Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine adds to the rising price of essentials.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rejected calls from the TUC and Labour for a windfall tax, claiming it would deter energy firms from investing in energy infrastructure.
In response, BP chief executive Bernard Looney stressed that such a move would not affect his spending plans.
Retail union Usdaw general secretary Paddy Lillis said ministers have “not delivered anywhere near enough to help workers.”
He told the Morning Star: “We need them to agree a windfall tax on oil and gas producers, a reduction in VAT and a review of universal credit.
“If they don’t take action, the government will have simply failed to understand the scale of the challenge faced by millions of working households.”
Energy regulator Ofgem has said that it plans to take “robust” enforcement action against any energy company found to have treated consumers unfairly when increasing direct debit payments.
Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s net-zero committee today, the regulator’s director of retail Neil Lawrence said a “very invasive” review is under way after some firms suddenly increased customers’ direct debits by as much as 100 per cent.
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