UK Conservatives Urge Removal of Environmental Levies as Energy Prices Soar

By Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
Alexander Zhang
January 2, 2022Updated: January 2, 2022

Some 20 Conservative lawmakers have urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to scrap environmental levies and other taxes to ease the pressure caused by energy price rises to British households.

Households are expected to see a steep rise in energy costs in April as suppliers are due to increase prices after the cost of gas in wholesale markets rose by more than 500 percent in less than a year.

In a letter published in The Sunday Telegraph, the lawmakers, from both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, argued that UK government policy was partly to blame for the rising energy costs.

They wrote: “It would be easy to dismiss these as due entirely to international cost pressures that all economies are facing. However, we have almost uniquely caused our energy prices, through taxation and environmental levies, to increase faster than those of any other competitive country.”

The letter urged the government to scrap VAT on domestic energy, which will mean a 5 percent reduction in energy prices.

It also called for the removal of the environmental levies on domestic energy, which it said amount to 23 percent of electricity bills.

The letter is signed by politicians including former work and pensions secretary Esther McVey and Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny Group of Conservative MPs, which monitors the potential consequences of the government’s environmental commitments.

Commenting on the British government’s commitment to achieving “net zero” greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, the letter said that “gas and oil will continue to play a big part in our energy needs for a generation.”

It added: “We are seeing the effects of high gas demand and limited supply in the international markets, pushing wholesale energy prices to historic highs. We hardly need to point out the risks of relying on other countries for our energy needs, especially those hostile to us.”

The lawmakers appealed for a “new approach” to energy security, which supports increased oil and gas exploration in the North Sea and shale gas extraction.

Conservative MP Robert Halfon, who was among the signatories of the letter, said that green levies are “25 percent of our energy bills.”

He told “BBC Breakfast” that the levies should be suspended at a time when people are struggling with their bills, though he said he has not called for them to be scrapped for ever.

In response to the letter, health minister Ed Argar said that the government recognises “the challenges people face with household bills and with the cost of living.”

He told Times Radio that the government has put in “a whole range of measures” to help protect poorer families and pensioners from rising costs.

PA Media contributed to this report.