A bid to get Lincolnshire County Council leaders to support a Windfall tax on oil and energy companies to tackle the cost of living crisis failed on Friday.
A motion put forward by Labour Group leader Rob Parker was supported across the Lib Dems and Independents.
However, Conservative members felt the government should be left to make its own decisions around how it helps residents. One councillor even said no-one had complained to him about problems.
Councillor Parker told members the measure – a one-off tax imposed by a government a on an unexpectedly large profit – was “essential to making sure that people who are currently finding it difficult, don’t find it even harder to make ends meet”.
“It is right and proper that what one might call obscene levels of profit should be used for public good,” he said.
Following discussion he said: “People in Lincolnshire have no idea what the conservative county council is going to do… the best we’ve got out of this is ‘let’s leave it to the government because we can trust them’.”
He added that it “tells a story” that only three Conservatives spoke against the motion as opposed to the seven who spoke for it.
Independent Councillor Phil Dilks said: “Many are already working all hours and they’re struggling to put food on the table.
“Now slapped with energy bills, many of them doubled, they certainly can’t pay… the chancellor tells us, it’s going to get even worse.”
“As food banks wonder if they’ll be able to operate next week, North Sea oil and gas are raking in billions.
“BP is making more money than they know what to do with… the windfall tax is surely the fairest way restoring the balance.”
Another supporter was Liberal Democrat Stephen Bunney who said: “The cost of living crisis is not going to disappear, in the near future it’s likely to get worse as the international situation continues to be far from stable.”
“The measures so far announced by the Chancellor are to be welcomed do not go far enough to tackle fuel poverty,” he added.
“This will give … breathing space to work on the monetary and fiscal policies that are required.”
Conservative council leader Martin Hill acknowledged the perfect storm of the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, and accepted there was a cost of living crisis.
However, he said there had already been “a massive amount of money given to tax payers” including £22bn for tax rebates or energy bill discounts, the rise in the NI payment threshold, universal credits, national living wage rises and child welfare spending.
“We need to remind ourselves that the government is not saying it’s going to do nothing.
“The Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Prime Minister have been very clear that in addition to the massive support which is currently being given out, they will give further support in terms of what needs to happen in the future,” he said.
“We should accept the government is going to do what it has to do. Which is why I will not be supporting this motion,” he added.
Councillor Anton Dani appeared to doubt there was even a problem.
“In Boston, when I go to surgeries or any charities, I haven’t met yet somebody who will complain to me as a councillor or as a representative of a council that’s a deprived place… I haven’t met anyone who complained to me that they have problems and struggling,” he said.
He said the Government had “done a great job” over the past two years and that “if you look at the economy” there were still cars being sold and that the prices were still up.
“My fellow councillors have a good cause to talk about it, but let’s not exaggerate and make it a drama,” he said.