George Osborne’s Autumn Statement Fails To Deliver On Industry “Wish List”

05-12-13(4)picThe Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, today (5 Dec) gave his Autumn Statement to Parliament, which failed to deliver on the issues of infrastructure and landfill tax clarity that the waste and resources industry urged.

George Osborne stood before Parliament today (5 Dec) to deliver his 2013 Autumn Statement, revealing Britain’s current financial state, future growth forecasts and the Government’s plans for the year ahead.

Yesterday (4 Dec) members of the waste and resources industry called on Osborne to address the issues of investment in infrastructure and the future of landfill tax in his 2013 Autumn Statement.

The Chancellor, however, failed to deliver, instead announcing tax breaks for shale gas firms.

The Environmental Services Association (ESA) outlined that it wanted to see certainty on the future rates of landfill tax, support for infrastructure and support for the Environment Agency.

Andy Atkins, Friend of the Earth – “Handing tax-breaks to climate-wrecking fracking firms simply highlights the fact that George Osborne hasn’t done his homework: they won’t lower bills, MPs say they are unjustified – and they could be illegal”

ESA’s economist, Jacob Hayler, said: “The [landfill tax] escalator has done an excellent job in signalling to the industry future rates, which have allowed investments in alternative infrastructure to be planned in advance. But this will run out next year and we need greater certainty going forward. ESA would support a real terms freeze in landfill tax as its current rates are already at sufficient levels to make alternative treatments competitive”.

The future of landfill tax was a regular theme on the industry’s “wish list” for the Autumn Statement, with Closed Loop Recycling also calling for “greater clarity” in order to “boost investment in the UK recycling industry.”

Unlike the ESA, which would support a freeze, Closed Loop says it would support “annual increases in landfill tax, at least in line with RPI, as well as long term visibility of these tax rates in order that recyclers can continue to invest with greater certainty.”

The ESA also insisted there should be no further cuts to the Environment Agency and that anything that would help to “underpin new infrastructure investment, such as new tax allowances for infrastructure, would be a great help to the sector.”

However, Osborne once again hailed in favour of shale gas, announcing new tax breaks and insisting that the country should not reject nuclear. He urged that the country “not turn out back on shale”.

Government also announced it would prioritise offshore wind power over onshore wind, with Osborne reiterating his mantra that “going green does not have to cost the earth.”

In response to the Autumn Statement, Friends of the Earth’s executive director Andy Atkins said: “Yet again the long-term health of our economy has been completely undermined by the Chancellor’s short-sighted determination to keep the nation hooked on dirty and increasing costly fossil fuels.”

“Handing tax-breaks to climate-wrecking fracking firms simply highlights the fact that George Osborne hasn’t done his homework: they won’t lower bills, MPs say they are unjustified – and they could be illegal.”

CIWM Says

Responding to the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, CIWM has expressed disappointment.

“We are becoming accustomed to finding very little good news in the Chancellor’s statements and today is no exception,” said CIWM chief executive Steve Lee. “Coupled with the recent ministerial letter signalling a scaling back in Defra’s work on waste and a disappointing National Infrastructure Plan 2013 yesterday, it is clear that our industry can expect little support from the Government to deliver its significant green growth and jobs potential.”

Steve Lee, CIWM – “Lack of money doesn’t have to mean lack of ambition and leadership, but once again the green growth agenda has been largely left out in the cold by the Chancellor”

CIWM has a number of specific concerns with regard to the Chancellor’s statement. While no clarification was expected at this point regarding issues around the lower rate of landfill tax, the industry has repeatedly called for greater medium term certainty on the higher rate to help investors, local authorities and the private sector to support, plan and deliver the necessary services and infrastructure in the future. And with the deficit now expected to last until 2018/19, it will be even longer before the Green Investment Bank can function like a real bank and provide the de-risking support that the waste and resource management sector needs.

In addition, more budget cuts for key “green growth” departments including Defra, DECC and BIS could mean that policy support in important areas such as resource security, industrial strategy and local economic development, and the circular economy will be further weakened.

“Lack of money doesn’t have to mean lack of ambition and leadership, but once again the green growth agenda has been largely left out in the cold by the Chancellor,” added Lee.

“While we didn’t expect any substantive announcements, this Statement underlines the government’s hands-off approach to the future of this industry and a lack of regard for the role it can play in delivering a more sustainable and low carbon future.”

For the Chancellor’s full statement CLICK HERE

For the full CIWM press release CLICK HERE

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