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The Prime Minister has defended imposing green levies on energy bills despite the cost-of-living crisis, claiming there is “a lot of prejudice” against the sustainable agenda.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng previously failed to dismiss reports that the Government is considering scrapping the charges, which are used to fund renewable energy schemes, amid Tory backbench pressure.
The Daily Telegraph was among those to suggest that a levy which adds £153 to the average energy bill could be ditched in response to mounting living costs.
But asked if he was “uncomfortable” imposing the charges in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis, Boris Johnson insisted that “green technology, green sustainable electricity can help to reduce bills”.
Speaking on Wednesday during a flight to India for a two-day visit, Mr Johnson said he wants to do everything possible to “alleviate the cost of living”, but it is “very important to understand” that there is “a lot of prejudice against the green agenda”.
“Actually green technology, green, sustainable electricity can help to reduce bills,” he said.
“Overall, if you look at what we have done with renewables, it has helped to reduce bills over the last few years and will continue to do so.
“That’s why one of the things I want to do is use this moment to have, to really drive towards more offshore wind turbines.
“This country used to be number one for offshore wind… then China overtook us. We need to regain our lead, We need to build them faster and we can do it.”
Overall if you look at what we have done with renewables, it has helped to reduce bills over the last few years and will continue to do so
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister
The PM also repeatedly resisted ruling out extra measures to support families with soaring living costs before the autumn, when the energy price cap is expected to rise again.
Asked if the country can wait until that point to help families with the cost of living, Mr Johnson said: “We will do everything we can to help people through the aftershocks of Covid, as we have during the pandemic.”
Pressed on whether that meant he was not ruling out earlier measures, he said: “We’re going to do everything we can to help but don’t forget what we’ve already done: so there’s the council tax abatement of £150 for everybody in bands A to D homes.
“We’ve cut taxes for most people by lifting the NICs (national insurance contributions) threshold. That’s actually quite a big tax cut for loads of people.
“We’re continuing with all the supports that we offer – we’ve cut fuel duty by the biggest amount ever, 5p cut in fuel duty – altogether, the package is worth £22 billion.
“But the best answer is to have high-wage, high-skilled jobs, which is why we’re off to India, to get more investment into this country.”
Asked again if he was therefore not ruling out further measures before the autumn, Mr Johnson said: “I’m saying we’ll do everything we can to help, but I’m pointing to what we’ve already done.”