Bath’s MP, Wera Hobhouse has criticised the government for not being tough enough in the face of the huge profits being announced by some of the oil and gas giants.
Shell and BP made £32 billion and £23 billion in profit last year respectively as the UK went, and continues to go, through a cost-of-living crisis. Both firms have been able to make so much money last year that they could hand out massive shareholder distributions. BP increased the payout to its shareholders by 10% and Shell distributed £21.5 billion to theirs.
Both companies have also been criticised for their lack of renewables investment. Shell invested nearly £10 billion into oil and gas projects over the year, compared to just £3 billion into its renewable energy division. Similarly, BP has announced that it is scaling back the ambition for its emission cutting targets. Previously, the fossil fuel producer had said it wanted to cut emissions by 35-40% by 2030, but now they have committed to a 20-30% reduction.
These come despite the Government’s attempt at a windfall tax on these earnings. However, the levy has a loophole which means that firms can reduce the amount of tax they pay by factoring in losses or spending on investment into UK based projects. This meant that even though Shell made the highest profits in its 115-year history, it paid just £110 million into the windfall tax for this year.
Wera Hobhouse, Liberal Democrat Energy and Climate spokesperson and Bath MP, commented:
“The Conservative Government’s weakness in the face of the oil and gas giants has been exposed yet again. Throughout this energy crisis, the fossil fuel industry has been allowed to take in huge profits.
“The Prime Minister has failed the people of this country by ignoring calls for a proper windfall tax which could have helped ease the cost-of-living crisis. He has once again shown his willingness to put the fossil fuel lobby first and the people of this country second.
“The least the Government can do now is ensure that energy bills will not rise again this April. It would be a complete injustice for struggling families up and down the country to be subjected to another rise knowing that firms like BP and Shell have got more money than they know what to do with.”