Billions of pounds given away in a tax break for UK oil and gas exploitation could have permanently cut the energy bills of 2m homes by £342 a year if invested in insulation measures, according to a green thinktank.
Rishi Sunak announced the 91% tax break alongside a windfall tax on the huge profits of oil and gas companies last week. The E3G thinktank calculated that the tax break would hand between £2.5bn and £5.7bn back to the oil companies over three years, while an energy efficiency programme of £3bn over the same period would upgrade 2.1m homes making them less reliant on gas.
Soaring international gas prices are expected to more than double energy bills in a year by October, pushing a third of households into fuel poverty. Proponents of energy efficiency, including loft and wall insulation, say it is a no-regrets investment that cuts bills for good, slashes the carbon emissions driving the climate crisis and boosts jobs. Green groups said the chancellor’s grants to households partly funded by the windfall tax were only a “sticking plaster”.
Another report published on Tuesday by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) found that a £4bn annual investment in energy efficiency could permanently halve heating bills for households by 2035. Its author said Sunak was handing out “raincoats” but “failing to fix the roof”.
The tax reduction meets official definitions of a fossil fuel subsidy, which the UK and other countries had pledged to phase out. It incentivises new oil and gas production, despite a recent Guardian investigation finding that the fossil fuel industry is already planning projects that would blow the world’s chances of maintaining a liveable climate.
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The aviation sector is reluctant to “gear up” for thousands of people arriving because of the increased costs, the chief executive of the Airline Management Group has said.
Asked what the industry can do to cope with demand, Peter Davies told LBC:
Well, they have to gear up as quickly as possible in terms of staff, particularly through the airports with security.
However, he said they is a reluctance to increase staff numbers.
When you’ve got thousands of people arriving at Heathrow at seven o’clock in the morning, and that’s been happening for years, where you got a lot of people arriving on overnight flights, then you should gear yourself up to make sure you can handle those people.
But of course that costs money and it costs space, and people are reluctant often to do that.
Arts minister Stephen Parkinson said the “industry should have been recruiting people ready” for the increased demand for travel.
Asked if government could have done more to help the aviation sector during the pandemic, Lord Parkinson told Sky News that the government had helped but put the blame squarely on the travel sector not recruiting enough people ready for its busiest season now restrictions have lifted.
We’ve been helping people across the whole economy with support for jobs, but of course the pandemic hit lots of sectors in lots of different ways.
There was a period when people just simply weren’t able to travel for obvious reasons, but there’s been many months where we’ve been back on track, particularly since the vaccination to this moment and the industry should have been recruiting people ready.
The companies should have had the people in place and we’re working with colleagues in the department for transport to make sure that they can get people in as swiftly as possible.
He added: “We need clear communication from the companies to the people that are travelling, and colleagues at the Department for Transport are working with the industry to make sure they’re getting people in as swiftly as they can.”
Shadow financial secretary to the Treasury James Murray said that the “government hasn’t prepared” for the rise in demand for travel.
The Labour MP told Sky News said Labour had been warning there would be problems after the travel sector cut staff during the pandemic and are now struggling to cope with the increased demand.
We’ve been warning for months throughout the Covid pandemic that you can’t just let the airline industry and airports fall over, let them shed all of their staff, and then expect to get back on track when demand comes back after the pandemic.
We were warning about this, trade unions were warning about this, employee representatives were saying throughout the Covid pandemic ‘You need a sector-specific package to support the aviation sector’, and now we’re seeing what’s happened because the government hasn’t prepared for what would obviously come next.
He added: “The government was not working with the airlines to get that sector-specific package in place during the pandemic.”
Murray argued that the government “didn’t step up” and now people are seeing the impact of that as people’s holidays are impacted.
It felt fairly obvious what was happening during the pandemic in that people were not travelling, were not flying throughout the pandemic, but then, once the pandemic starts to recede, air travel would start to pick up again and the government simply didn’t do what was necessary during the pandemic to get ready for what’s happening now, and now we’re seeing the impact of it.
He added that there had been added chaos because of the problems people are facing trying to apply for passports or renew their passports, which Murray says was also something that should have been predicted ahead of time and planned for.
The other aspect of this as well, and not to forget, is all of the chaos in terms of passports and the fact that that was predictable as well… It’s something where a bit of common sense, a bit of planning… if the government had had their mind focused on what was coming they could have prepared for this.
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