Industry demands energy tax let-out

BRITAIN'S BIGGEST energy users are seeking an exemption from the new climate change levy proposed in this month's Budget in return for signing binding agreements to improve their energy efficiency.

Industry representatives rejected the offer of a 50 per cent reduction in the energy tax proposed by the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott at a meeting yesterday.

"We are disappointed the Government has linked energy efficiency agreements to the tax, and we are looking for a zero rate of tax," said Graham Funnell, head of environmental policy at the UK Steel Association, one of nine sectors represented at the meeting.

But Mr Prescott said industry had already benefited from substantial reductions in energy prices. "Companies will be able to exchange part of their liability for the climate change levy in return for commitments to environmental gain," he said.

The objections to the environmental tax, which comes into force in April 2001, follow the row between the Government and road hauliers over vehicle excise duty for heavy lorries announced in the Budget.

Lisa Waters, economic adviser to the Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), said: "It is important people understand it was not a win, win Budget. It was lose, lose if you work in manufacturing. The Government has failed to grasp the effects of this tax on the competitiveness of UK manufacturers."

The Department of Environment, Transport and the Regions and Treasury are to hold further meetings after Easter with industry representatives, including steel, chemicals, paper, glass and food manufacturing.

One of the objections is that the climate change levy is not fiscally neutral. Although the revenues raised will be returned to industry through a reduction in employers' national insurance contributions, most energy- intensive businesses employ relatively few people.

British Steel estimated that in the worst case the levy would cost the company pounds 200-300m, compared with a pounds 5m saving on its national insurance bill.

The industries are also alarmed that the Government plans to impose the tax on companies that meet their energy use targets. This would raise costs at a time when many manufacturers are struggling with the effects of the strong pound and recession in important markets overseas.

Some of their biggest foreign competitors are also unburdened by efforts to meet the international climate change targets. These include China, Brazil, Korea and India.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
A poster by Durham Constabulary
news
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Neil Pavier: Management Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Neil Pavier: Are you looking for your next opportunity for ...

Sheridan Maine: Commercial Accountant

£45,000 - £55,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ACA/ACCA/ACMA qua...

Laura Norton: Project Accountant

£50,000 - £60,000: Laura Norton: Are you looking for an opportunity within a w...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine