Thank you for contacting me about tax and the cost of living.
The rising global prices for fossil fuels, especially gas, are increasing at an unprecedented rate. The UK is vulnerable to global price volatility as it is a net importer of natural gas and ultimately, this feeds into all customer energy bills in the UK. Electricity prices are heavily impacted by rising gas prices because gas is one of the fuels used to generate electricity. This is why I welcome the Government’s Energy Security Strategy, which could see 95 per cent of all UK electricity generation be low carbon by 2030, which will reduce reliance on gas, but also help meet the statutory decarbonisation target of net zero by 2050.
In recognition of the unprecedented circumstances pushing up fuel prices, I welcome the decision announced at the Spring Statement to cut fuel duty by five pence for a full year across all fuel duty rates.
The decision to freeze fuel duty for the twelve consecutive years prior to this cut had already saved the average driver over £1,900 compared to the pre-2010 escalator.
Since Ofgem’s confirmation of the price cap rise, which is now in effect, the Government has put forward an ambitious support package to help both lower and middle-income earners with the immediate adjustment. This includes a £400 grant for energy bills for all which the Chancellor has not only recently doubled, but he has also cancelled the clawback mechanism meaning this will not have to be repaid. Further, a non-repayable £150 cash rebate is being provided for homes in Council Tax bands A-D, equivalent to 80 per cent of all households and £144 million of discretionary funding for local authorities to support those not eligible for the council tax rebate. This means that hard working families will receive £550 with lower income families receiving even more help.
Any decision to further modify our tax regime in relation to domestic heating and other fuel is a matter for the Treasury and careful consideration will be given to any proposed amendments to current VAT rates. It should be stressed that the Government keeps all taxes under review, including VAT. I shall be following the developments on this issue closely, and I will ensure my colleagues at the Treasury are aware of the strength of feeling on this issue.