Cut green energy levies to tackle soaring energy bills, suggests Sammy Wilson

A cut in green energy subsidies could be used to relieve some of the pressure facing households due to soaring prices, a DUP MP has suggested.

By Niall Deeney
Wednesday, 25th May 2022, 7:55 am

East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said up to 20% could be cut from electricity bills by such a move.

Electricity, fuel, home heating oil and gas prices have skyrocketed in recent months, with knock-on impacts on the price of food and other essentials amid the war in Ukraine, the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic and a myriad of other factors.

The UK government has come under increasing pressure in recent months to take action, amid warnings some are being forced to choose between heating their homes and buying food.

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Wind farm in Co Tyrone, pictured in June 2017 by Darren Kidd/ Press Eye

Mr Wilson, speaking to the News Letter, gave his support to a suggestion Universal Credit could be increased to help those on benefits cope with the price shocks, as well as a possible ‘windfall tax’ on energy companies.

He also suggested, however, that green energy subsidies could be reduced or even scrapped to help consumers.

Estimates of the cost of renewable energy levies vary.

Some believe measures, such as the the Renewable Obligation (RO) scheme which came into effect in Northern Ireland in 2005, ultimately saves the consumer money by reducing reliance on carbon fuels from overseas.

Others, including Mr Wilson, said ‘green levies’ are costing the consumer as much as 20%.

“We’re subsidising all this green stuff, carbon reduction and everything else,” he said.

“Those windmills have got guaranteed subsidies for 25 years. A lot of those green issues still, and will continue for the next 25 years, have subsidies.

“That’s something they could do to bring down the cost of people’s energy bills, which are the big thing at the moment for customers.”

On the possibility of an uplift in universal credit, Mr Wilson said: “An increase in universal credit would be of assistance to people who are in receipt of benefit, and for those who are in low-paid jobs.

“It is one measure which would at least target the right people – the government can’t cover everybody but they can target those who are least well off.”

He continued: “A general taxation cut, for example, is attractive and probably easy to do but it is maybe not the best way to do these things. A general taxation cut would help me and while I have experienced increases in the cost of electricity, food and everything else, it is not a choice between ‘heat or eat’ for me the way it might be for others.

“Those are the people who should be targeted for support. A universal credit uplift would at least get to the people who are least well off.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised further support amid soaring inflation but said people will “just have to wait a little bit longer”.