Why are you prioritising profits over people, Mr Rees-Mogg?

Jacob Rees-Mogg

As a Yeovil resident and writing in a personal capacity rather than as a county councillor, Oliver Patrick has asked his MP Marcus Fysh to forward a letter to Jacob Rees-Mogg – the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In the letter Oliver says he has “grave concerns” over the way the Government is approaching the energy crisis.

The plans announced by the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss, include removing all Green Levies from customers’ bills, lifting the ban on fracking, and issuing 100 new North Sea oil and gas licences. The plans have been heavily criticised by Professor Sir David King, head of the Climate Crisis Advisory Group and former Government Chief Scientific Adviser. “It beggars belief” said Sir David, who described the plan as “completely at odds” with the UK’s legally-binding net-zero target.

Oliver explained, “like many, I welcomed the government’s recent decision to freeze the domestic price cap at £2,500. However, the government has chosen to borrow £150bn to do this when it could have imposed a windfall tax on gas and electricity generators, who are raking in excess profits in the region of £170bn.

“The government appears to be prioritising profits over people,” says Oliver, adding “meanwhile the energy price cap is still double what it was a year ago.” Oliver believes that the government is failing to address the root cause of our energy price crisis. “We haven’t learned the lessons of the 1970s oil crisis” says Oliver, “and despite admirable progress in renewable energy generation, our energy market is still far too reliant on fossil fuels.”

This morning, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced its Energy Bill Relief Scheme which will cut in half the energy bills that businesses, schools and hospitals are facing this winter. Oliver remains unconvinced, saying

“yet again, this plan doesn’t address the root cause – it uses even more government borrowing to pay for excessive energy company profits.”

According to Cornwall Insight, the cost of the business support package is estimated at £25bn.

Oliver is hoping Mr Fysh’s colleague will be able to answer the questions put to him.

“Firstly, I want to know how drilling for more gas tallies with the commitment to tackle climate change”, says Oliver. “Secondly, I want to know exactly where the government is finding the £175bn needed to freeze the domestic price cap and pay for the business support packages. And thirdly, I want to know if the government has a long-term plan for the energy market.”

Oliver believes the energy crisis requires a bold response including reform of the energy markets to put the planet and people over profit. He finishes by saying

“we must not throw the environment under the bus. But my concern is that the plans for more gas and large scale public borrowing to prop up profiteering energy companies will do exactly that.”

We have reproduced Oliver’s letter to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in full below:

Re: the case for energy market reform

Dear The Rt Hon Jacob Rees-Mogg,

I write to express my grave concerns regarding the Prime Minister’s plans to tackle the soaring cost of energy by removing Green Levies, lifting all restrictions on fracking, and issuing 100 new oil and gas extraction licences. In your new role, what are you planning to do to ensure that the Government doesn’t jeopardise the UK’s target of net zero by 2050?

On the one hand I am relieved that the Government has scrapped October’s 80% increase of the price cap and today’s Energy Bill Relief Scheme announcement to help businesses, schools, and hospitals. However, I am deeply concerned about the Government’s plan to fund this with £175bn of borrowing over the next 2 years. Especially when UK gas and electricity generators are set to make excess profits in the region of £170bn in the same timeframe. Where is the Government finding the estimated £175bn needed to pay for the domestic price cap freeze and the Energy Bill Relief Scheme for businesses?

The actions described above are clearly symptomatic of a broken energy market that needs fixing. In a functioning market, the Government wouldn’t need to borrow £175bn to partially fund the country’s energy bills. I’d be ever so grateful if you could set out your vision for a reformed energy market that both works for consumers and protects our planet.

I wish you every success as you get to grips with your new role as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Yours in anticipation,

Oliver Patrick