FORMER PRIME MINISTER SIR JOHN MAJOR has called for an emergency tax on the profits of Britain's largest energy companies.
The former Conservative leader described the recent price rises of more than 10% as "unacceptable", adding "people will have to choose between keeping warm and eating" as a result of the hikes.
The government could recoup the cost of its winter fuel payments through a one-off levy, he said.
Should such a duty be imposed, the cost of cold weather payments would also be covered, he said. Those payments are triggered when the temperature falls below a certain level for a sustained period of time.
Those on income support and other work-related benefits also qualify for a £25 payment if temperatures drop to zero degrees centigrade or below for seven consecutive days.
There is no plan as yet to introduce the tax, but Downing Street said Major's suggestion was "interesting", the BBC reports.
While Major's comments have been relatively warmly received, Ed Miliband's call for a price freeze - adding the rises are a "con" - was rejected by ministers. He also urged those hit hardest by the increases to switch suppliers.
Three of the Big Six energy firms - nPower, SSE, and British Gas - have announced plans to raise gas and electricity bills by between 8% and 10%. Analysts expect the others - Scottish Power, E.On and EDF - to follow suit with similar price increases.
Image credit: David Fowler/Shutterstock
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