Susanna Reid grills George Eustice on cost of living measures
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Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs George Eustice faced quite the grilling from Good Morning Britain’s Richard Madeley and Susanna Reid on Wednesday. The ITV presenting duo quizzed Eustice on prime minister Boris Johnson’s comments in Tuesday’s interview with Reid before turning their attention to the Conservatives’ plans going forward. However, when it came to the cost of living and energy prices, Reid didn’t hold back.
Eustice defended: “Well, the important thing is the prime minister and the government judge at the moment that we have to be careful about borrowing lots more money and throwing it into an inflationary environment.
“So we’re doing what we can for now,” he added. “We announced a package of measures in the spring statement, some of them have already taken effect.
“Like the increase in the national living wages to £9.50 and that will help people on the lowest pay.
“Some of them will come through in July, like some of the changes on national insurance thresholds. When the -“ Eustice went on before finding himself cut off by Reid.
The GMB host cut in: “That doesn’t help people who are on benefits or pensioners though, does it?”
Eustice tried to protest: “We’ve doubled the funding that we have in something called the household support fund which goes to local authorities, there’s now £1 billion there -“
But Reid cut in again: “I’m sorry, Mr Eustice, but this is the point, isn’t it?
“You talk about £1 billion and of course, that sounds huge in the round.
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“The point is that sometimes only translates to £150 for somebody who is actually eligible for it and it’s just a one-off to help with an emergency measure.
“So what are you going to do to help people like Elsie, people who can’t afford their energy bills, what are you going to do?” Reid quizzed, referring to a pensioner who has found herself riding the bus for heat rather than turn it on at home.
Reid went on: “Because one of these suggestions, you look at these billions in profit these energy companies are making, partly as a result of this crisis,
“You could say, ‘You know what? You could give us back a bit of that’ and that would help right now.”
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Eustice replied: “Well they give us back a lot of it already and we already have higher tax rates on oil companies, almost double the rate of tax of other companies.
“BP, for instance, on the profits they made in the North Sea will pay around £1 billion in tax.
“So they do make a significant contribution already, they do pay higher taxes than the rest of business.
“You know, we keep these things under review but the chancellor is very mindful of deterring investment in the North Sea, we’ve learnt the dangers and the perils of being over-reliant on other countries for our oil and gas supply.
“During this transition to net-zero, it’s vital we continue to get supplies from the North Sea, we don’t want to deter that investment.”
Madeley then interjected to suggest BP could invest now given its profits and not be deterred from the move.
However, Eustice simply referred back to Chancellor Rishi Sunak for his plans.
Good Morning Britain airs weekdays at 6am on ITV.
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