“It’s not a loan.”

Greg Hands, The Minister of State for Business, Energy and Clean Growth, BBC Question Time

April 7, 2022

Facts

Mr Hands was asked about a one-off repayable £200 discount and a rebate on council tax bills, introduced to help tackle the cost of living crisis. 

When asked by presenter Fiona Bruce if the £200 energy rebate was a loan, Mr Hands said "It is not a loan, it is a discount, which you have to pay it back in the form of a levy." Ms Bruce persisted: "But you have to pay it back, it sounds like a loan?" The government minister continued: "Not the individual, it gets taken back at the point that it is levied." But when asked if that means people don’t have to pay it back, he said: “No, I’m not saying that.” 

Verdict

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a loan as “A thing lent; something the use of which is allowed for a time, on the understanding that it shall be returned or an equivalent given; esp. a sum of money lent on these conditions, and usually at interest.”

While the official government position is that the rebate is not a loan, the money will have to be repaid from April 2023, with £40 being deducted each year over 5 years. In ordinary language, a payment that must be repaid is a loan. 

We approached Greg Hands' office and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy to give him a chance to comment, but received no response.

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