Liz Truss defends energy firms saying profit is not evil

- BBC News

Liz Truss defends energy firms saying profit is not evil

Liz Truss has defended earnings at energy companies amid soaring price rises, saying profits should not be considered "dirty and evil".

The Tory leadership hopeful said windfall taxes on profits - urged by some to fund help for households - were about "bashing business".

She said cutting taxes was the best way to help with living costs over winter.

But rival Rishi Sunak said millions would be left at risk of destitution without more energy payments.

He has proposed spending billions on further payments to pensioners and the low paid over winter, arguing tax cuts wont help them enough.

How best to respond to surging energy prices has become a key battleground in contest to replace Boris Johnson as UK prime minister in September.

Energy has come to dominate the contest in recent days, after prices were forecast to rise to over £4,000 per year next year for typical households.

Energy companies have posted bumper profits in recent months amid soaring gas and oil prices, prompting calls to tax them further to help with rising bills.

Earlier this month, BP reported its biggest quarterly profit in 14 years of $8.45bn (£6.9bn), while Shell posted a record profit of $11.5bn (£9bn).

When he was chancellor, Mr Sunak introduced added a 25% surcharge to the profits of the oil and gas sector since the end of May.

But speaking at a hustings in Cheltenham, Ms Truss said she "absolutely" did not support windfall taxes, calling it a "Labour idea".

"Its all about bashing business and it sends the wrong message to international investors and to the public," the foreign secretary added.

Asked about public perceptions of record profits, she added: "I dont think profit is a dirty word, and the fact its become a dirty word in our society is a massive problem."

"Now, of course, the energy giants, if theyre in an oligopoly, should be held to account, and I would make sure theyre rigorously held to account.

"But the way we bandy the word around profit (as if) its something thats dirty and evil, we shouldnt be doing that as Conservatives."

The comments come amid increasingly bitter exchanges between the leadership rivals over their respective plans to help people over the winter.

Ms Truss has said her plan to reverse National Insurance rises and scrapping green energy bills will help families and boost the economy.

But also speaking at the Cheltenham hustings, Mr Sunak said tax cuts would "leave millions of incredibly vulnerable people at risk of destitution".

He added that pensioners "dont have the ability to go out and work more hours" and were "already dipping into their savings in retirement".

"If we dont provide direct support to millions of vulnerable pensioners, it will be a moral failure of this party and the country will never ever forgive us."

He has pledged to make extra payments to vulnerable groups this winter, on top of the £15bn package of payments he announced as chancellor in May.

He has said he is prepared to borrow to fund his plan, but this can be kept to a minimum through "efficiency savings" across government.

Read it all at BBC News