MP ALEXANDER Stafford has been attacked for welcoming a freeze in the TV licence fee just days after voting against another measure aimed at helping cut costs to hard-pressed householders.
Mr Stafford said in a social media post that it was “good news” the TV licence would remain at £159 as it would “help with the cost of living”, adding: “Now let’s look at doing away with it altogether.”
But the Tory MP’s stance on the issue appeared at odds with the approach he took when helping to vote down Labour proposals to cut VAT on fuel as energy prices rise.
The Rother Valley MP, who voted by proxy in last Tuesday’s vote, was one of 319 MPs opposing Labour’s proposal.
While Mr Stafford remained bullish, saying only the Conservatives had “a serious plan” to tackle the energy crisis, one constituent said: “I find it appalling that Mr Stafford, who claims to represent the Rother Valley, has voted against a VAT cut on energy prices.
“An extra 15p per week [the difference made by not raising the TV licence fee] to a low-income family is an insult compared to the extra 50 per cent that will be charged on energy.”
Mr Stafford, a former employee of energy giant Shell, said: “Labour’s party political motion presented to Parliament on energy prices was not a credible plan \_ it was the usual political game playing from the Opposition, with an unworkable idea designed to give the appearance of help, but in reality had not been fully developed.
“In contrast, in addition to improving our energy supply by making it more reliable and more plentiful, we are committed to supporting vulnerable households with the energy price cap, the warm home discount scheme, the cold weather payments scheme, the winter fuel payment, the increase in the minimum wage, changes to the Universal Credit taper, and the £500 million household support fund.
“Only this Conservative Government has a serious plan to tackle higher energy prices for hardworking British families.”
Labour has also drawn up what it calls “fully-costed” plans to tackle the crisis.
The opposition party wants VAT cut from energy bills, with a windfall tax on oil and gas producers used to pay for it, and the development of more renewable energy sources to boost production in future.
Wentworth & Dearne MP John Healey said: “We know the Treasury has VAT payments that are hugely swollen by higher prices, while big gas producers are also making bumper profits.
“People are really worried about winter energy bills and they’re feeling the pinch before the Government’s scheduled price rises in the spring.
“These plans would provide help for everyone and give more help to those that are struggling the most.
“Labour’s plan to keep energy bills lower in future would see us accelerate home-grown renewables and new nuclear, retrofit 19 million homes to save households an average of £400 a year on their bills, and reform our broken energy system to stop energy companies playing fast and loose with the rules.”
Mr Stafford’s office noted he had not worked for Shell since being elected but had “always had a keen interest in energy matters having worked previously for the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on energy and climate change as well as currently sitting on the Energy Select Committee in Parliament”.