Question Time: Howls of laughter as Energy Secretary says £200 notes are ‘rebate’ not credit

An audience at BBC Question Time laughed at claims by Energy Secretary Greg Hands that a £200 rebate meant to help people deal with the cost of living crisis is actually not just a loan

Greg Hands said people got a £200 energy rebate
Greg Hands said people got a £200 energy rebate

The government’s energy secretary was on the receiving end of laughter as he tried to defend a £200 “rebate” being offered to insolvent Brits.

The moment was captured during Thursday’s BBC Question Time as he struggled to convince the audience that a £200 rebate to deal with the cost of living crisis wasn’t just a loan.

Brits are facing a threatening surge in energy prices this year, leading many to wonder how they will deal with it.

Conservative MP Greg Hands was asked about the Government’s plans to help people get more environmentally friendly fuels and he also outlined the steps being taken to help people deal with the cost of living crisis.

Mr Hands pointed to a £9billion package unveiled by Chancellor Rishi Sunak last February, in which a one-off £200 refundable rebate and a reduction on council tax bills would help increase a household’s average energy bill by £700 per year to cope with in April .

Question Time moderator Fiona Bruce asked Mr Hands if it was a loan or a rebate



The Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth said the £200 rebate was not just a loan.

He told the audience at Question Time: “The Chancellor of the Exchequer launched a really important package in February, just two months ago, to deal with the surge in bills, not to deal with them entirely, but actually to set aside £9billion , so £200 off energy bills, a £150 rebate on council tax, extra funds to ensure the most vulnerable are able to help them pay for their energy.”

It was at this point that presenter Fiona Bruce jumped in, saying: “Of course £200 is a loan?”

And Mr. Hands replied, “That’s not a loan, that’s a rebate that you have to pay back in the form of a levy.”

Ms Bruce insisted: “But you have to pay it back, it sounds like a loan?”

Mr Hands insisted there was no obligation to return the money



The government minister continued: “Not the person, they will be taken back at the time of the survey.”

Amid laughter and shouts from the audience, Ms. Bruce said to them, “You’re all screaming, what are you all screaming about?”

They yelled back, “It’s a loan.”

Mr Hands continued: “It is redeemed by a levy, it is not a loan because it creates no obligation on the individual to repay it, it is in fact a levy on the price point.”

He added: “It’s all about the price point, not the individual. The individual is under no obligation to repay.”

When asked if people wouldn’t have to pay back if they didn’t want to, he replied, to members of the audience giggling, “No, I’m not saying that.”

Some viewers laughed at the idea that it was a discount



At that point, Labor MP Emily Thornberry said: “So if you don’t heat, if you don’t have heating afterwards, you don’t pay it back.”

“It’s not an obligation,” Mr Hands said.

“These are the important things that have been announced to help people with bills. But that’s different from the long-term strategy we launched today with renewable energy, nuclear power and making sure we don’t increase our imports of oil and gas.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also had to defend the government over claims that the new energy strategy is not helping people with rising bills.

He said the strategy – which aims to boost new nuclear power, offshore wind and hydrogen – is a long-term plan that focuses on energy supplies, “undoing the mistakes of the past and making the big decisions now.”

He said the government has “already done a lot to help people with the immediate cost of living and of course we will do more”.

The latest investment will support the research, development and deployment of “cutting-edge technologies,” the government said, adding that it is also releasing a “set of important documents and guidelines to support the development of these industries.”

A financial package announced last Friday includes £240m to fund low-carbon hydrogen production projects, £5m to accelerate CCUS (carbon capture and storage) technologies and a £2.5m competition for Bidder to develop a UK Advanced Modular Reactor (AMR).

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