Rishi Sunak will ultimately decide to impose a windfall tax on energy giants to help families deal with the cost-of-living crisis, Ed Miliband has suggested.
Labour will put forward an amendment to the Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday for a one-off windfall tax on oil and gas firms’ bumper profits.
There have been mixed messages from the Government on such a levy, with Chancellor Rishi Sunak saying to the BBC that while he is “not naturally attracted” to the idea, “no option is off the table”.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson told LBC Radio “we’ll have to look at it”, before saying: “I don’t think (windfall taxes) are the right way forward”.
Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Miliband, the shadow secretary of state for climate change and net-zero, said he believes the Chancellor will ultimately impose a windfall tax because it is “an unanswerable case”.
Mr Miliband said it is “obscene” that the Government has refused to impose the levy while “seven million people” are “skipping meals because they can’t afford their bills”.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng reiterated on Sunday that Mr Sunak is “taking nothing off the table”, but said he himself remains opposed to it as it would deter new investment.
Mr Miliband said: “We face a social emergency in this country. Seven million people, we know, are skipping meals because they can’t afford their bills and energy bills are rocketing upwards.
“At the same time, as a direct result of that, we have got oil and gas companies that are making billions of pounds, literally record profits.
“Of course the right thing to do is to levy a windfall tax on those oil and gas companies so we can provide proper help to families. £200 across the board, cut in bills for all families, £600 for nine million families who are facing the biggest struggles, and that is absolutely essential.
“I think it is frankly obscene that the Government is refusing to do this. I mean, I listened to your Kwasi Kwarteng interview. I’m not interested in their internal machinations about this, because every day that goes by when they refuse to do the right thing is another day when millions of people in this country have sleepless nights about how they are going to afford their bills.
“My message to the Chancellor is this: you’re going to do a windfall tax, I believe he is going to do a windfall tax because, frankly, it’s an unanswerable case.
“Get on with it and do it, and bring real help to families.”
On the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme, Mr Kwarteng said he does not think a windfall tax is a good idea.
He explained: “I don’t believe in windfall taxes because what you are taxing is investment in jobs, you are taxing investment in wealth creation, you’re taxing investment in new technologies such as hydrogen and carbon capture.
“We want to see more investment. We don’t want to see taxes which essentially act against any incentive to invest.”
He said Mr Sunak stands ready to provide more help to hard-pressed families, but ministers need to assess the likely economic impact of events like the war in Ukraine.
Frances O’Grady, head of the Trades Union Congress, told Sophy Ridge that the Chancellor has “woefully failed” to help families struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
She said workers are being treated like “cash machines” and called on Mr Sunak to boost the minimum wage through an emergency budget.
She said: “All the evidence is that prices have been driven by increases in energy prices, certainly not wages, which are set to fall in real terms.
“What we need is for the Chancellor, who I’m afraid woefully failed working families, to come back with that windfall tax on energy companies that would provide some immediate relief.”