BUSINESS leaders from Scotland’s oil and gas sector have reacted angrily to “opportunistic” calls from Labour for a windfall tax to be placed on fossil fuel companies in an attempt to cut energy bills for households.

Labour’s plan would see the funding used to reduce energy bills by an average of £200 to help solve the cost-of-living crisis – set to worsen in the coming months.

The party’s £6.6 billion plan would include removing VAT on domestic energy bills for a whole year, as well as expanding and increasing the warm homes discount for those most at risk.

The fossil fuels producers would be forced to contribute £1.2 billion to help fund the strategy, through a year-long increase to their corporation tax of 10 percentage points.

READ MORE: Labour proposes North Sea oil and gas windfall tax to help solve energy price crisis

But Oil and Gas UK (OGUK), the industry body for the North Sea sector, has warned that such a move would “damage investor confidence with long term consequences for the UK economy”.

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves blamed UK ministers for creating a “price crisis” by responding to surging wholesale energy costs with “dither and delay” as she set out her plan.

The UK Government is under pressure to act, with experts predicting a 50 per cent hike to bills in April, meaning an average household paying about £700 more per year.

Labour says its proposal would save most households about £200, while targeted support to low earners, pensioners and the squeezed middle would save them £600.

It would spend an extra £3.5 billion on the warm homes discount, to increase it from £140 to £400 per year, while pledging to double the number of households eligible to 9.3 million.

READ MORE: Fears SNP shunning nuclear power could lead to higher energy bills

VAT would also be removed from bills for a year from April, six months longer than Labour has previously called for, at a cost of £2.5 billion.

Smoothing the costs of supplier failure by removing them from customers’ bills would cost £2.6 billion, while a £600 million contingency fund would be established to support energy intensive firms.

As well as the corporation tax rise for North Sea oil and gas producers in 2022/23, Labour said the money would come from a forecast £3.1 billion extra in VAT receipts as a result of rising prices.

The final £2.3 billion required would come from additional North Sea oil and gas receipts forecast, according to the figures used by the party.

Ms Reeves said: “There is a global gas price crisis, but 10 years of the Conservatives’ failed energy policy, and dither and delay, has created a price crisis that’s being felt by everyone.”

As well as the temporary measures, she said Labour would work to prevent price hikes by accelerating home-grown renewables and new nuclear.

She also said the party would retrofit 19 million homes to reduce bills and “reform our broken energy system to stop energy companies playing fast and loose with the rules”.

Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, warned that "years of Tory failure have led directly to a cost of living crisis which is hitting the people of Britain hard".

He added that Labour's plan to place a windful tax on the oil and gas sector would "bring down bills and reform the energy market".

OGUK sustainability director Mike Tholen said: “Opportunistic calls for a windfall tax are in no one’s interest, we need to work together to address both current and future energy challenges.

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“The tax regime is already working effectively with the Treasury seeing significantly higher returns from companies operating in the North Sea.”

He added: “Over the next two years, the Treasury expects an additional £3 billion in tax revenue from this industry – with a predicted direct tax take of almost £5 billion. The upstream oil and gas industry already pays almost double the rate of corporation tax that other sectors pay.

“Oil and gas companies are leading in the development of carbon capture, hydrogen and wind, and investing billions in green infrastructure across the UK.

“A windfall tax will damage investor confidence with long term consequences for the UK economy, UK security of energy supply and the industry’s contribution to developing the sustainable energy solutions of the future.”

Last month, the industry body called on Scottish ministers that their hostility to the oil and gas sector is putting thousands of jobs on the line.

READ MORE: SNP and Greens warned oil and gas rhetoric has 'shaken investor confidence' and risks jobs

The warning came after Nicola Sturgeon changed her position and called for contentious Cambo oil field plans to be halted and Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie appeared to celebrate Shell pulling out of the project.

Experts believe soaring wholesale costs will mean a 50% rise in April when the change to the energy price cap, determined next month, comes into effect.

That would cause an average household on a supplier’s default tariff to pay nearly £2,000 per year for their gas and electricity, compared with less than £1,300 today.

Responding to Labour’s proposals, a UK Government spokesman said: “The energy price cap is currently insulating millions of consumers from high global gas prices. We’ll continue to listen to consumers and businesses on how to manage the costs of energy.

“We recognise people are facing pressures with the cost of living, which is why we are taking action worth more than £4.2 billion, and supporting vulnerable households through initiatives such as the £500 million household support fund, warm home discount, winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.”