Solar panel tax increases opposed by Eurosceptic Tory MPs

18 March 2016
By Jack Loughran
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Labour claims the tax rise could add £1,000 to the cost of a household solar system

Labour claims the tax rise could add £1,000 to the cost of a household solar system

Eurosceptic Conservative MPs are backing Labour moves to block an increase to taxes on solar panels and other energy saving measures.

A group of Brexit-supporting Tory MPs, including Bernard Jenkin, Peter Lilley, Nigel Evans, Graham Brady and Jacob Rees-Mogg, have signed up to a Labour amendment which would stop a VAT hike on solar and energy saving measures from five to 20 per cent.

The government is raising VAT charged on the clean energy measures, after the European Court of Justice ruled the UK's lower rates were illegal under European Union law.

Eurosceptics in the Conservative Party are seizing on the issue by backing the amendment to the Finance Bill. As well as those who have supported the amendment, other Tories are expected to oppose the EU-ordered VAT hike.

In his blog, Wokingham MP John Redwood said: "I for one will be opposing this measure, as I do not wish to see energy conservation taxed in this way and object strongly to the erosion of our taxation powers by the European Court."

Labour claims the tax rise could add £1,000 to the cost of a household solar system and put thousands of jobs at risk in an industry already hit by huge cuts to subsidies and comes as the European Commission has indicated it is prepared to be more flexible on VAT.

Shadow energy and climate change secretary Lisa Nandy said: "Coming on top of savage cuts to other energy investment schemes, this solar tax will destroy thousands of jobs and make the power crunch worse.

"Reversing it is well within the Chancellor's power. He must act to protect this important British industry," she urged.

The Solar Trade Association's Leonie Greene said: "In our view the Treasury is not required to single out solar power for punitive treatment under VAT - that would be truly bizarre given fossil fuels attract low VAT - and we urged the Chancellor to stand up to the European Commission whatever.

"It is clearly a nonsense to sting families financially if they want to do the right thing on climate change.”

Stephen Hawking and more than 150 academics in the scientific community last week said that if Britain left the EU it would be a ‘disaster’ for UK science.

Siemens and BMW have also said that a British exit from the EU would be damaging to the future of the UK’s technology and manufacturing sectors.

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