Give Wales the power to tax big energy companies say Plaid – ‘if Westminster won’t do it we’ll do it ourselves’
Plaid Cymru have called for the powers to tax and regulate the energy sector to be given to Wales, saying that “if Westminster won’t do it we’ll do it ourselves”.
They were responding as the energy price cap rose 54% in the UK today, with many in Wales facing a doubling of their energy bills.
Plaid Senedd Member Luke Fletcher said that Wales “cannot wait” for Westminster when it comes to such an urgent matter, and says that Wales must stand up for its people and demand the powers to tax and regulate the energy sector, to set a windfall tax, to cut VAT, to set a price cap, and, if necessary, to restore public ownership.
“Of all the UK nations, the cost of living crisis will impact the people of Wales the most, because we have the highest level of relative income poverty,” he said.
“Any increase in the cost of living will a significant effect, so a 54% rise in energy price cap could prove catastrophic for too many households in Wales.
“Over winter, Welsh Government helped out with a winter fuel support scheme, but the price rise is happening now, in spring – the support cannot stop now. For families in Wales, a few hundred pounds could make the difference, and yet we know energy companies are sitting on billions of pounds worth of profit.
“We can no longer wait for Westminster to do the right thing by Wales – we need the powers to tax and regulate the energy sector, here in Wales. This starts with imposing a one-off windfall tax on energy companies. If they don’t want to do it for us, then give us the powers so we can do it ourselves!
“We’ve already talked about the choice many families had between eating and heating the house over winter. It sickens me that families may now be in a position where they can no longer afford to heat that food, while energy companies sit on profits in the billions.
“The balance must be shifted, and Welsh Government must do all they can to address this.”
Friday’s energy bill rise comes on top of a hike in fuel prices and general inflation.
Welsh Liberal Democrat Leader and Senedd Member Jane Dodds, who represents the largely rural Mid and West Wales region, said that she was “afraid” for her constituents.
As of 2017, the number of households living in fuel poverty was at 23% in Gwynedd, 21% in Ceredigion, 17% in Powys and 14% in Pembrokeshire well above the national rate for Wales which sits at 10%. These figures are likely to have increased as the pandemic and recent price increases have hit.
“I am genuinely afraid for a lot of my constituents right now,” she said. “I know so many of them were already struggling already, and it is utterly heart breaking to hear stories of parents having to choose to feed themselves or their children, or between heating and eating.
“The recent price rises will push some families over the edge, and it is beyond frustrating to see the sheer levels of inaction at Westminster. Rishi Sunak did nothing in his spring statement to address the elephant in room of high energy prices.
“It is beyond belief that the Conservatives are still refusing to introduce a windfall tax on the super profits of oil and gas companies. These companies are not struggling, but instead making their largest profits in decades while the Welsh public suffer.
“A windfall tax could fund the doubling and expanding of the warm homes discount, or even an emergency insulation scheme. But that isn’t even the only thing the Conservatives could do. They could reduce or scrap VAT on energy bills, or add heating oil and LPG to the energy price cap, but they are refusing.
“As if the inaction wasn’t enough, the Conservatives instead hit the Welsh public with a tax rise in terms of national insurance payments. This only goes to demonstrate how out of touch and financially inept they have become.”
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