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UK to set out new support to tackle cost-of-living pressures, funded by windfall tax

05/25/2022 | 03:23pm EDT
General view of the Houses of Parliament in London

LONDON (Reuters) -British finance minister Rishi Sunak will set out more details on Thursday of the government's response to the growing cost-of-living pressures facing households, a spokesperson for his department said.

This is expected to include a 10 billion pound ($12.6 billion) package of support to help with rising energy bills, an energy industry source said, funded in part by a windfall tax on oil and gas producers companies.

Inflation surged last month to its highest annual rate since 1982, piling pressure on the government to do more to help those struggling to pay rising food, fuel and energy bills.

"We understand that people are struggling with rising prices," a finance ministry spokesperson said.

"The Chancellor was clear that as the situation evolves, so will our response, with the most vulnerable being his number one priority. He will set out more details tomorrow."

A source in the governing Conservative Party said: "You can expect something quite comprehensive," with the vast majority of help directed at the poorest.

The opposition Labour Party have called on the government to introduce a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, something ministers have previously said they are ideologically opposed to doing, but would not rule out.

The industry source said they expected the government to announce an expansion of a scheme which gives some of the poorest households a discount on their electricity bills over the winter months, as well as an increase in a council tax rebate announced earlier in the year.

The government is expected to announce a windfall tax on oil and gas firms in the form of an increase in the supplementary tax charge for oil and gas producers, with incentives to continue investment.

Asked if the government was planning a windfall tax, the Conservative source said if it did go ahead with such a levy it would be a one-off and would be done in a way that did not jeopardise investment.

($1 = 0.7954 pound)

(Reporting by William James, Kylie MacLellan, Andrew MacAskill and Ron Bousso; editing by Michael Holden, Frank Jack Daniel and Leslie Adler)

© Reuters 2022
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