Budget 2021: ‘Gordon Brown could’ve given it’ says expert

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Millions of Brexit voters faced bitter disappointment on Wednesday when the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget failed to secure cheaper energy bills for all. In the run-up to the 2016 Brexit referendum, Boris Johnson and the Vote Leave campaign pledged to scrap the European Union’s (EU’s) five percent VAT on household energy bills. In a letter co-signed by Michael Gove, the Prime Minister said voting for Brexit would strike at the heart of European bureaucracy and scrap the “unfair and damaging tax”.

But the Government has failed to deliver this key Vote Leave promise, despite facing increasing pressure to protect customers from extortionate energy bills this winter.

Instead, Mr Sunak has unveiled changes to Capital Gains Tax, research and development funding, and new tax rules on alcoholic drinks, among others.

Mike Foster, the CEO of the not-for-profit Energy and Utilities Alliance(EUA), has now told Express.co.uk the Labour party has done more in recent days to protect vulnerable Britons than the Government.

The energy expert has previously claimed scrapping the tax could offer a much-needed lifeline to Britons facing higher bills due to the ongoing energy crunch.

A number of high-profile Labour MPs have thrown their support behind the Brexit pledge, including Shadow Chancellor Rachel Reeves.

Earlier this week, she urged the Government to scrap the tax for a temporary, six-month period starting on November 1.

Cutting the tax, she argued, would help cushion the blow of high energy costs this winter.

She said: “We want our everyday economy to thrive, and for people to be secure and prosperous.

“But right now, people are being hit by a cost of living crisis which has seen energy bills soar, food costs increase and the weekly budget stretched.”

Budget 2021: Rishi Sunak mocks Labour with 'red flag' jibe

Mr Foster praised the Shadow Chancellor for making it clear the cut could be a temporary but effective cost-saving effort.

According to the EUA, customers on the £1,277 price cap could save up to £64 on their energy bills.

He said: “I was delighted to see some politicians actually being brave enough to put their head above the parapet and back the cut.

“All credit to Rachel Reeves and her team for making it clear that their policy was for a temporary measure, and I think that would have been a perfectly acceptable way of framing it – just some temporary respite against these rising energy bills and they’re going to keep on rising.

“All the experts say that it’s a matter of, ‘Is it £200 or £500? they’re going to go up by?’

“Well these sums are huge for people who struggle to pay their bills and Rachel Reeves got it and understood where the public is on this.

“If their policy is to try and make Brexit work, then they’ve got the right approach.

“Unfortunately while Rachel Reeves is trying to make Brexit work, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are doing the Brexit betrayal.”

The Shadow Chancellor was joined by Bridget Phillipson, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who claimed there is no need for the taxman to automatically claim five percent of energy bills.

Labour Leader, Sir Keir Starmer, has also shown his support and said on Wednesday morning: “The Budget must take the pressure off working people.

“With costs growing and inflation rising, Labour would cut VAT on domestic energy bills immediately for six months.

“Unlike the Tories, we wouldn’t hike taxes on working people and we’d ensure online giants pay their fair share.”

Ahead of the Budget’s reveal on Wednesday, a Treasury spokesman told Express.co.uk the Government is committed to supporting vulnerable and low-income households.

Towards this goal, the Government is funding the Household Support Fund, Warm Home Discount, Winter Fuel Payments and Cold Weather Payments.

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