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Government 'putting oil and gas profits before customers' with refusal to slash VAT, Labour charges

THE government was accused of putting energy firms’ profits before the welfare of struggling customers yesterday after it rejected Labour plans to cut tax on gas and electricity bills.

Labour’s accusation follows a survey showing that 85 per cent of Conservative voters support a cut in VAT on energy bills to protect customers.

Tory ministers voted against the plans last week.

In Commons remarks Labour proposed a “fully funded” tax plan to cut household energy bills by £200 this year and by £400 for pensioners and low to middle-income consumers.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves said: “Instead of backing Labour’s plan to scrap VAT on home energy bills – paid for by a one-off windfall tax on North Sea oil and gas – Conservative MPs would rather leave hard-working people to face the cost-of-living crisis alone.

“It tells you everything you need to know about this government that they believe we should prioritise oil and gas companies making huge windfall profits that they say are ‘struggling,’ rather than the British people who face the true struggle to pay their energy bills.”

The Scotland Greens have also hit out at the Westminster government for forcing Scottish consumers to share the costs of building new nuclear power plants in England through hiked energy bills.

This is despite Holyrood banning new nuclear plants in Scotland.

The Scottish Greens accused the Tories of being “obsessed” with building hugely expensive new nuclear power stations and forcing consumers to subsidise them in advance through energy bills.

Earlier this week the Scottish government said energy bills would rise by £40 to help build new nuclear power stations such as Hinckley Point C in England.

Scottish Greens energy spokesman Mark Ruskell said: “As well as leaving a toxic legacy for generations to come, nuclear power is a bad deal for consumers now, at a time when energy bills are pushing more and more households into fuel poverty.

“Renewable energy is far cheaper, and since it doesn’t result in toxic waste which will remain deadly for hundreds of thousands of years, better for the environment too.

“The UK government’s energy policy is more about helping its friends than following the science or tackling fuel poverty.”

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