Cost of living: Man goes out with charity box for Shell and BP
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A comedian has shamed Shell and BP in a damning satirical sketch after the oil majors raked in record profits last year while millions of homes suffered in fuel poverty. Political satirist Jolyon Rubinstein teamed up with campaigners Global Witness to perform a comedy sketch where he was filmed collecting donations from the British public to add to the already eye-watering income of British energy giants BP and Shell.
He presented himself as a representative of the fictional charity “WRBYP” (We’re richer because you’re poorer), ending with an attempt to deliver a charity cheque to the HQs of both companies. It comes after Shell announced a record £32billion annual profit for 2022. Meanwhile, BP doubled its profits last year, making a record £23billion profit due to surging energy costs sparked by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, the satirist said the numbers are “shocking”. He was outraged that millions of Britons have been sitting in poverty as suppliers shift the high energy costs to helpless households while the top dogs’ cash pile grows larger.
Mr Rubinstein said: “There are statistics that are all too gigantic to take in. But one of them that really hit me was that over the last 50 years, the fossil fuel industry has made three billion dollars a day every day. It concerns me. I see myself as an empiricist, a rational person, and the science is pretty clear on this stuff.”
“There is a sense of hopelessness about this. The fact that there may be even just one person freezing to death, but as we know, the numbers are shocking. We need to wake up and say ‘how can this possibly continue’.
“We are better than this. But what we want to see is that we are wrong…We want to see bills produced to the House (of Commons), legislation being proposed rather than just announced…We need to see real action.”
However, fuel poverty charities and campaigners have long been highlighting that energy producers have been profiting from Russia’s war in Ukraine, which sent shockwaves down global energy markets.
To address this, the Government imposed windfall taxes on the sector, with Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement raising the energy profits levy on UK oil and gas extraction activities to 35 percent from 25 percent, helping fund energy bill support packages.
But according to Offshore Energies UK, a trade body representing the fossil fuel industry, a windfall tax is not necessarily the best way to go about easing household bills, which are currently double the amount they were before the crisis erupted.
OEUK told Express.co.uk: “Without companies like BP and Shell, the UK would not be able to heat their homes, power their vehicles and run their businesses.
“Multinationals like Shell and BP are not single companies but groups with multiple overseas subsidiaries – so most of their profits are made abroad. Subsidiaries based in other countries will pay taxes – but in those countries. The UK cannot then impose a second tax just because the group has its headquarters in the UK. That would breach global tax agreements. And, if we did, they would all leave.
“We already have a 75 percent windfall tax on profits made in the UK – the highest for any industry.
It would also be invidious for the UK to tax profits made in other countries. The taxes on those revenues belong to the countries where they were generated. It would be wrong for another country’s revenues to be effectively seized by the UK.”
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But Mr Rubinstein’s comedic approach is not necessarily focused on individual policies. Rather, he wants to appeal to the public in a way that can really cut through by offering a different kind of scrutiny compared to that usually seen in the newspapers or on TV.
He said: “We have reached a stage in our history where the usual things don’t seem to work. Sometimes it is about comedy sketches like this one. Some of the time, it is about actual straight down the barrel that this is an issue more people should be aware of.
“But I do think that for us, WRBYP, we are presenting Shell and BP with a blank cheque from the British public to ask them how much they actually want it. I do think. I think people have a big disconnect between these quite faceless companies and their own pockets, their own lives and where they are at the moment.”
Shell has declined to comment. Express.co.uk has also reached out to BP.
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