The boss of energy company E.ON said any tax in the UK should lie on “those with the widest shoulders” as consumers face doubling prices.
Michael Lewis, CEO of E.ON, also said that energy regulator Ofgem needs to reconsider why prepaid customers are forced to pay more for energy than direct debit customers.
“We lobbied for a social tariff. We would like the poorest customers to get a better deal, but in the end it is regulated by Ofgem, ”Mr Lewis told BBC One on Sunday Morning.
He said the company surveyed 500 customers and found that 71% of people were concerned about their electricity bills, resulting in 66% reducing heating and spending about a third less on food.
He warned that the October rise in energy prices could reach between 2,600 and 2,800 pounds, “sound in the right order”, but he said it would depend on future price developments.
“For us, the most important thing is that the government intervenes, the government has to decide how they finance it [intervention]”- he said.
“All I would like to say is that when they tax to solve this problem, they tax those who have the widest shoulders.”
He warned that more and more customers are falling into fuel poverty and that it will get worse later this year.
“We are seeing a significant number of people in fuel poverty,” he said.
“This means that more than 10% of their disposable income is spent on energy, and this has risen to about 20%, and in October our model estimates that it could grow to 40% if the government does not intervene in some way.”
Enhancing the benefits “absolutely” will help
Mr Lewis said about one in eight of the company’s eight million accounts in the UK already had debt, and he expected it to grow by 50% in October.
He added that increasing the Universal Credit would “absolutely” help “people who are at the bottom of the income range who have suffered the most from it”.
His comments after former Conservative leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith called benefits should be increased immediately help the poorest people cope with the cost of living.
However, his request came at a time when two cabinet ministers were publicly speaking out against imposing an unexpected tax on oil and gas companies to help pay for the support of people struggling.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Northern Ireland Minister Brendan Lewis said it was a “postponement of investment”, and Health Minister Sajid Javid told conservative activists in Wales that he instinctively disliked it.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to rule out the ideaone newspaper on Sunday reported that a separate version of the collection was being considered.
Government to “consider all options”
Education Minister Nadhim Zahavi, who on Sunday asked about the revenue tax on Sophie Ridge Sky, said: “We will consider all options. I will discuss each option with the Chancellor, the Prime Minister and the Cabinet.”
Mr Zahavi spoke of the importance of investment by oil and gas producers, adding: “If you apply a tax on windfall income, they will probably have to reduce or withdraw their dividends. Who receives dividends? Retirees through their pension funds.”
“Investments need to be real and I think Rishi [Sunak] will demand from all these companies and see a roadmap for these investments. We do not remove any options.
“We want to see their investments, but also remember that retirees mostly receive dividends from these companies, and if they are going to cut their dividends because they had a tax on windfall income, then it will matter to retirees. “