Tsunami of rising energy costs requires immediate action – Beattie

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Tsunami of rising energy costs requires immediate action – Beattie

The Ulster Unionist Party Leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has written to Foreign Secretary Liz Truss MP and European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič asking for immediate action to facilitate a reduction in VAT on energy costs which will apply across the United Kingdom.

Mr Beattie said:


I am extremely concerned that energy prices are soaring exponentially throughout the United Kingdom creating real societal difficulty. I am also aware that the Chancellor – The Right Honourable Rishi Sunak MP – would be in a position to reduce VAT on fuel therefore helping millions of our citizens including those here in Northern Ireland. 


“However, as I understand it Article 8 Annex 3 of the Northern Ireland Protocol prevents the Chancellor from reducing VAT on energy costs in Northern Ireland due to the Protocol and is potentially delaying a reduction in energy bills right across the United Kingdom.


“I would much prefer the UK Government were able to take a unilateral decision on a reduction in VAT on energy costs right across the United Kingdom. However, with a tsunami of rising energy costs facing millions of UK citizens, I urge immediate action at a UK/EU level.


“If this can be done, it will give the most vulnerable hope that we can get through this present crisis which will help the material and societal wellbeing of the people of Northern Ireland.


“The UK Government is well aware of the issue and I discussed this directly with the UK Ambassador to the EU when I was in Brussels last week. They are actively considering how it can help ease the pressures on households across the United Kingdom. Having visited the EU Commission recently and spent 90 minutes talking to Maroš Šefčovič it was clear he is also well across the issue. Indeed having met him in Brussels, discussed this issue and wrote to him on Saturday, it was heartening that he responded positively within hours of my letter being sent. He gave a commitment to raise it next week as discussions on the Protocol continue between UK Government and EU negotiating teams. I would urge them to put this to the top of their list for immediate action.


“This is not the time for ideology as our people have to choose between eating or heating or being unable to afford to run their car to get to work due to petrol prices.  This is a time for grown up politics without partisan viewpoints.


“There are huge pressures on all levels of the UK Government and the EU given the brutal Russian invasion of Ukraine. Already we have seen huge cooperation between the EU and UK and without a doubt this is their priority. However, the effects of Putin`s war on Ukraine is going to exacerbate the direct impact on households right across Europe and the United Kingdom, including those here in Northern Ireland. That`s why I will continue to seek more engagement directly with the UK Government and EU as a constructive way of dealing with issues in the context of wider geopolitical issues that sees the whole of Europe on the brink of war and a small part of the United Kingdom in no position to deal with its outcomes.”