No windfall tax on energy companies

Both candidates have this week faced scrutiny of their plans to help households with the cost of living crisis.

Customers face more pain next year if annual energy bills soar to more than £5,000. Ofgem, the energy regulator, may have to set the price cap at £5,038 per year for the average home because of high gas prices, Auxilione, an energy consultancy, said.

Experts said the cap could hit £4,467 in January, with such a scenario leaving the average household paying £571 for energy that month. Auxilione warned that the cap was likely to remain above £4,000 throughout next year, saying there was little that could be done to directly bring prices down.

On Thursday, Boris Johnson led talks with bosses over ways in which the energy sector can offer relief for households. The Prime Minister told them high prices risked damaging the sector, but no new policy steps emerged.

It emerged this week that Treasury officials are preparing options for Mr Johnson’s successor on how to tackle the cost of living crisis, including enlarging the existing windfall tax on energy companies.

But on Thursday Ms Truss made it clear that she opposed that move, appearing to defend energy firms that have made expanding profits. Rising energy costs have seen oil and gas companies enjoying bumper profits, with BP recently announcing a tripling of underlying profits to £6.9 billion in the last quarter.

Ms Truss said: “First of all, I don’t think profit is a dirty word, and the fact it’s become a dirty word in our society is a massive problem. Because in this audience today we have hundreds of people who run businesses and make a profit.

“Of course, the energy giants, if they’re in an oligopoly, should be held to account, and I would make sure they were rigorously held to account.

“But the way we bandy around the word profit as if it’s something that’s dirty and evil… we shouldn’t be doing that as Conservatives and we’re actually playing into the hands of people like Jeremy Corbyn, who want to completely undermine our way of life.”

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