Value Added Tax Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:35 am on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Christopher Chope Christopher Chope Conservative, Christchurch 10:35 am, 8th February 2019

Yes, of course I do. I have an estimate—not quite done on the back of an envelope, but on a rough piece of paper. The Government’s figures say that the reduced rate—5% instead of 20%—for domestic fuel and power, which is by far the largest item here, currently costs the Exchequer £4.8 billion. That implies, based on my maths, a yield of some £1.6 billion from having the rate at 5%. Therefore, of all the measures in clause 2, that is by far the largest cost. On the other hand, I would have thought that that cost was more than justified by the social and economic benefit of introducing such a policy.

The Government told domestic consumers of electricity and gas that they were on their side and that they wanted to cap their costs, so they introduced, with the sounding of trumpets, a cap on energy costs. We then found out yesterday that the cap is being increased by some 10%, the consequence of which will be an increase of £100 on an average household bill of about £1,200 a year. If we add VAT, that is another additional cost. If we removed VAT from a £1,200 bill, that would be a saving of about £60 per household on average. I would have thought that that would be worthwhile, and it would be one way of mitigating the effects of rising energy prices across the world and rising prices of the raw materials. Why not go for that? If we look at all this like an accountant—although I am not an accountant, I did once work for a large firm of accountants, so I know the mindset that can be associated with such activity—why are we not considering the political benefits that will flow from eliminating VAT on domestic fuel and power?