Scrap business rates due to energy costs – Labour – msnNOW

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Labour has called for business rates to be scrapped to help firms struggling to cope with rising energy prices.

The party also urged the government to introduce a windfall tax on North Sea gas and oil producers to create a £600m fund to support companies.

Businesses, like many households, have seen their energy bills rise in recent months along with wholesale gas prices.

The government said it would listen to people and businesses on how to manage the costs of energy.

Wholesale gas prices have surged in recent months, with increased demand for energy in Asia and a summer with little wind all contributing to the cost on households and businesses.

The Office for National Statistics said 12% of businesses said either production or suppliers or both had been affected by increases in wholesale gas prices. Labour said its own analysis suggested nearly one in four UK businesses had been affected by higher gas prices.

Jonathan Reynolds, Labour’s shadow business secretary, said “viable firms” were at risk of “going to the wall because of government failures over the last decade”.

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“The government has been asleep at the wheel, with British firms, especially those energy-intensive businesses, paying the price,” he added.

Labour said the £600m “contingency fund” to support struggling firms, including energy intensive industries, such as manufacturing companies, would be financed by the one-off windfall tax on record North Sea Oil and Gas profits.

The party said it will force a vote in parliament on Tuesday, which will call for the government to scrap business rates and create its suggested £600m contingency fund.

Labour has said such a windfall tax on North Sea gas and oil producers would also help households deal with the expected rise in gas and electricity bills.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves told the BBC the UK was “uniquely exposed” to global energy price rises.

The trade body Energy UK has predicted bills will surge by up to 50% in April, when the change to the price cap, due to be determined in February, kicks in. It said the average household could end up paying about £700 more per year.

And with UK inflation at a 10-year high in November, and the rate expected to increase to further in the next few months, warnings of a cost-of-living “crisis” have been voiced.

The Liberal Democrats has also called for a windfall tax on energy firms.

A statement from the government said: “The Energy Price Cap is currently insulating millions of consumers from high global gas prices. We’ll continue to listen to consumers and businesses on how to manage the costs of energy.

“Thanks to our diverse mix of nuclear, gas and renewable technologies, the UK has one of the most reliable energy systems in the world.”

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Scrap business rates due to energy costs – Labour – msnNOW

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