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Millions of families in the UK are facing a cost of living crisis, with rapidly rising inflation, higher taxes and energy bills could rise by £ 700 or more when the government raises the cap energy prices in April.
And although there is a global gas price crisis, the failure of conservative energy policies over the past decade has left us with unique exposure.
Along with security and respect, one of the tenets of Labor’s ambition for Britain is prosperity, as everyone should have the opportunity to thrive and earn a living.
That’s why Labor this week announced a one-off tax on North Sea oil and gas producers who take advantage of these price hikes – to help fund additional support for households struggling with the burden of l increase in bills.
Our support will begin with a reduction in VAT on household gas and electricity bills. But we know that just as people are in trouble, so are businesses.
Labor will work with industry to reduce Britain’s dependence on imported gas by increasing investment in local renewables and nuclear
Across the country, there are hundreds of energy-intensive companies in around 70 different sectors. The ceramics, steel, woodwork and malt used in making whiskey and beer are just a few examples. All of them rely on high energy consumption.
Since 2019, just like households, UK builders have faced a huge fivefold in the price of gas.
High energy prices have cost UK steelmakers an additional £ 90million this year and £ 345million over the past six years – the equivalent of almost two years of capital investment.
And on average, UK producers pay 61 percent more than their German counterparts for electricity, and 51 percent more than the French.
Yet the Conservative government refuses to act, jeopardizing thousands of jobs and undermining communities across the country.
Work has a plan. We would allocate a £ 600million contingency fund from the windfall oil and gas tax to support our energy-intensive businesses and industries in the short-term pain of rising energy costs.
And in the long run, Labor will work with industry to reduce Britain’s dependence on imported gas by increasing investment in local renewables and nuclear.
We will support UK manufacturers by investing up to £ 3bn to make the steel industry green, and we will support UK businesses by removing trade tariffs and replacing them with a fairer system for the 21st century.
The Conservatives have failed to support industries time and time again. Steel is a great example of a sector that they have allowed to melt away over the years. In the early 1970s, there were 320,000 jobs in steel. Today, there are only 33,700.
This month, steel producers were warned of looming danger to the industry due to the government’s failure to negotiate an end to unfair U.S. tariffs. Just yesterday, Business Secretary Lee Rowley told me the government refuses to require UK produced steel to be used in all government contracts.
It is a total abdication of responsibility. But there is hope.
Work can and will support industry. We know that energy costs are one of the most pressing issues facing steel and other energy intensive sectors.
We have a plan to support our industry, buy more, manufacture more and sell more in Britain and keep our economy running at full speed.
And our £ 600million contingency plan is just the start of a brighter future for UK industry based on the security, prosperity and respect everyone in Britain deserves.
Bill Esterson is the Labor MP for Sefton Central and the shadow minister for business and industry.
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