EEF responds to Osborne’s Budget 2016

Chief Executive of EEF, Terry Scuoler and his senior colleagues have responded to the announcements made yesterday during the Chancellor's Budget 2016.

Chief Executive of EEF, Terry Scuoler noted: “If there was ever a time when industry wanted to be left alone in a Budget then this is it.

Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF
Terry Scuoler, CEO, EEF.

“The Chancellor heeded business warnings of no major new policies which will add to costs already in the pipeline, particularly as manufacturers are at the sharp end of many of the big global challenges he alluded to.  The icing on the cake would have been setting these in the context of a broader strategy for industry which still remains a gap in the Government’s armoury.

“Given the weaker outlook for our economy and global volatility, the Chancellor was right to reinforce the importance of Britain remaining in the EU. Much of what he said about stability for future generations will mean nothing if the British people vote to leave the EU. The UK would be in uncharted waters, the consequences of which could be highly damaging.

“Another Corporation tax cut is one important lever in keeping investment growth on track. The continued inclusion, however, of investment in plant & machinery in business rate calculations is a disappointment for the steel industry in particular. Government will need to do more to support steel this year.”

You can read the major announcements from the Chancellor’s Budget 2016 here.

Apprenticeship levy

Tim Thomas, head of employment and skills at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation
Tim Thomas, head of employment & skills, EEF

EEF director of employment & skills policy,Tim Thomas commented: “Manufacturers firmly support the Government’s ambition to create more high quality apprenticeships. However, they do not support the use of a levy to get there.

“Industry has clearly set out what the Government needs to be deliver to ensure the levy is seen as a talent generator and not a tax, but today’s announcement does little to allay manufacturers’ fears, even with the announcement of a 10% top-up for levy payers

“While everyone is putting their full weight into this process, it is becoming clear that the Government’s deadline of April 2017 is now seriously out of synch with companies’ planning cycles. If government wants to avoid this issue becoming a policy mess, it must push back the levy implementation date to 2018.

Business rates reform

Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.
Lee Hopley, chief economist, EEF.

EEF chief economist, Lee Hopley said: “Industry will be relieved that there is no fundamental overhaul of the business rates system and that bills look set to increase less sharply in the future.

“However, the Chancellor’s decision to remove cheaper properties from paying business rates only increases the burden on seeking revenue from plant and machinery included in calculations. Today’s measures maintain business rates as a tax on investment and may add greater uncertainty to local authority budgets in the future given their now increased dependency on plant and machinery for future revenues.”

Business Energy Efficiency Taxation Review

EEF’s senior energy policy advisor, Richard Warren commented: “Manufacturers will be enormously pleased to finally see the back of the CRC energy efficiency scheme, a vastly overcomplicated tax that has had a negligible effect on energy efficiency improvements in industry.

“We would have liked to see the Government go further, however, and relinquish the revenue stream attached to this scheme, but do at least welcome the Government’s clear commitment to make changes to the Climate Change Levy in a genuinely revenue neutral manner.

Richard Warren, senior climate and environment adviser, EEF
Richard Warren, senior climate and environment adviser, EEF

“Continuation of the Climate Change Agreements for all sectors is extremely welcome. The scheme strikes the correct balance between penalty and reward, working with the grain of business to drive investments in energy efficiency.

“Just as importantly, the scheme is an essential element of the package of measures protecting our most energy intensive industry from uncompetitive energy prices. Government is to be congratulated on listening to the concerns of industry and refraining from unhelpful reform.”

Carbon Price Support rates

Warren added: While we had been hoping for something more radical on the Carbon Price Floor itself, the commitment to continue the current freeze to the support rates beyond 2019/20 is welcome.

“With UK electricity consumers currently saddled with a carbon price some four to five times higher than consumers elsewhere in Europe, there can be little justification for a resumption of its original trajectory. We will continue to call for its phasing out but [this] at least provides manufacturers with some certainty on cost stability for the remainder of this parliament.”

Broadband Investment Fund

Chris Richards, senior business environment policy adviser, EEF.
Chris Richards, senior business environment policy adviser, EEF.

EEF senior business environment policy adviser, Chris Richards highlighted: “Manufacturers need best in class provision if Britain is to take advantage of the next industrial revolution, industry will welcome [the] announcement of a Broadband Investment Fund which must be targeted to ensure this leads to a reduction in costs for business broadband by stimulating alternative providers.

“Only a fifth of companies believe the UK is currently at the forefront of internet connectivity.”