General Assembly back call for windfall tax to tackle fuel crisis

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has called for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies to help tackle the "crisis of fuel poverty".

Commissioners backed a motion urging the UK Government to take immediate action to help the poorest in society who have been hit hardest by soaring energy bills by 288 votes to 83.

The issue was brought to the floor of the Assembly Hall in Edinburgh by Rev Mike Goss, minister of Barry linked with Carnoustie Church in Angus.

Rev Mike Goss
Rev Mike Goss addresses the General Assembly.

He said companies were enjoying unexpected profits while many people across the UK were forced to choose between heating their homes and putting food on the table

Mr Goss said: "We need to recognise that our energy industries have been doing extremely well out of the current crisis but fuel poverty is a real reality for people in our communities, particularly for the poorest.

"It is clear that the huge scale of the money flowing into energy companies is far beyond what they anticipated in their plans this year and next at a time when the poorest are being hurt by the bills that they face.

"We need to square that circle and we need to do that urgently, not waiting for (bills to increase) in October or next year.

"There needs to be an urgent settlement to provide care for those who will literally be choosing to heat or eat.

"A one-off windfall tax is a means of being able to redistribute these huge profits in order to address the crisis of fuel poverty across the UK."

Financial pressures

The motion brought forward by Mr Goss also recognised that there can be no new oil and gas developments to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees Celsius, in view of a call from the United Nations and International Energy Agency.

It also instructed the Faith Impact Forum to work with Priority Areas and with partner organisations on advocacy and practical action to address the growing crises of fuel poverty and energy insecurity.

Speaking after the debate, Very Rev Dr Susan Brown, convener of the Faith Impact Forum, said: "We believe the earth belongs to God, and the question of how we share resources is a deeply moral as well as a political issue.

"The unexpected profits reported by large energy producers is in stark contrast to the financial pressures of people struggling against rising prices and the cost-of-living crisis.

"The call made by the General Assembly is an appeal to the UK Government to do everything that is within their power to help redress the imbalance between those with great wealth and those struggling against poverty.

"A windfall tax is a necessary part of the urgent action that is required today to help make our national life fairer and more just."

General Assembly

The 2022 General Assembly runs until Thursday 26 May at the Assembly Hall on The Mound in Edinburgh.

The event will be livestreamed through the Church of Scotland website, with highlights shared each day through the website, Facebook and Twitter.

Find out more about the General Assembly.