Publicly-owned Great British Energy company part of Labour’s ‘first steps’ election pitch

  • New company to be paid for by ‘windfall tax on oil and gas giants’
  • Part of six ‘first steps’ election pitch announced by leader Kier Starmer
  • Blair-style pledge card lays out Labour’s plans for power
Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, and his wife, Victoria Starmer, after casting their votes in the local and London Mayoral election. Picture date: Thursday May 2, 2024

Keir Starmer, leader of the Labour Party, and his wife, Victoria Starmer, after casting their votes in the local and London Mayoral election. Thursday May 2, 2024 (flickr)

Great British Energy, a publicly-owned clean power energy company, is one of six pledges made by opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer, as part of Labour’s pitch for the upcoming general election.

Labour says the new company would be paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas companies.

According to BBC Verify, the current Energy Profits Levy was introduced in May 2022 at a rate of 25%, and was increased in January to 35%. It will stay in place until March 2029, so long as oil and gas prices remain high.

Labour wants to increase this levy to 38%, while removing some of the investment allowances that it includes, which is sees as loopholes.

Designed to win favour with both traditional Conversative and Labour voters, the first steps for change are outlined below:

  1. Deliver economic stability with tough spending rules, so we can grow our economy and keep taxes, inflation and mortgages as low as possible.
  2. Cut NHS waiting times with 40,000 more evening and weekend appointments each week, paid for by cracking down on tax avoidance and non-doms.
  3. Launch a new Border Security Command with hundreds of new specialist investigators and counter-terror powers to smash criminal gangs and strengthen our borders.
  4. Set up Great British Energy, a publicly-owned clean power company, to cut bills for good and boost energy security, paid for by a windfall tax on oil and gas giants.
  5. Crack down on antisocial behaviour, with more neighbourhood police paid for by ending wasteful contracts, tough new penalties for offenders, and a new network of youth hubs.
  6. Recruit 6,500 new teachers in key subjects to set children up for life, work and the future, paid for by ending tax breaks for private schools.

It is striking that three of the six pledges mention ‘tax’, whether it’s ending tax breaks, windfall taxes for oil and gas giants, or cracking down on tax avoidance.

During his speech announcing the Blair-style pledge card in Essex, the Labour leader said that Great British Energy would help the UK achieve its net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The six ‘first steps’ follow the five missions announced earlier this year, and the shelving of the party’s £28bn green investment pledge, which caused frustration among climate campaigners, including Greenpeace, back in February.

Asked about these concerns, Starmer said: “I’m not scaling back on our ambition absolutely at all. This is not to reduce the missions, this is to say what is the first down payment on the delivery of those missions, what are the first steps we can take. The missions remain.”

“Renewable energy is safer than fossil fuels, and it is also the right thing to do for the planet.”

Starmer said the publicly-owned Great British Energy, had already been “fully costed” and would be delivered within two terms of a Labour government.

The announcement of the Great British Energy is the first commitment made towards Labour’s environmental policies.

We will continue to follow the environmental policies of all of the main parties running in the upcoming general election.

Written by:
Tamara Birch, senior writer, The Eco Experts
Tamara has written about environmental topics for more than four years. This includes advising small business owners on cost-effective ways, like solar panels and energy-efficient products to help them become more sustainable. 
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