Major Green groups have condemned the Governments latest budget

George Osborne delivered his latest budget and criticism has been noticeable aimed at the large tax breaks given to oil and gas exploration in the North Sea. As the Government seek to protect jobs as well as drive tax revenue from selling more gas and oil.

Mr Osborne was also criticised for using the expression ‘this is a budget for future generations’ but avoided any major policy decisions which drives the UK on towards the new Paris Agreement on climate change.

Impact on the Energy and Climate:

There was a mixed bag of announcements on energy and climate. It included:

  • more support for a wealth fund for people living near shale gas sites;
  • flood defence spending up £700m;
  • tidying up a tangle of business taxes on energy - a measure welcomed by firms;
  • the Chancellor also followed the recommendation of his National Infrastructure Commission to herald a new chapter in energy, in which smart systems will store energy and use the internet to control energy demand;
  • George Osborne did announce “up to” £730m of support for offshore wind and other less established” renewables, to be delivered from 2021-22 onwards via auctions.

Impact to Business:

For many of Elmhurst customers it is vital to also look at the impact in terms of small to medium businesses and the following were the highlights:

  • For small businesses the Class 2 National Insurance contributions has been abolished, which the government says gives a tax cut of more than £130 to three million self-employed workers from 2018;
  • Headline rate of corporation tax - currently 20% - to fall to 17% by 2020;
  • Annual threshold for 100% relief on business rates for small firms to rise from £6,000 to £12,000 and the higher rate from £18,000 to £51,000, exempting 600,000 firms;
  • For the majority of energy assessors who use vehicles to run their business, fuel duty is to be frozen at 57.95p per litre for sixth year in a row.

Elmhurst of course welcome the commitment to inject over £700m in to support for offshore wind and other less established renewables; but these are due in 2021; which currently seems a long way off. Energy and Climate Change policies and ideas seems very stuck ‘in neutral’ (if not reverse) at the moment, if the Government are indeed keen to make all our decisions about ‘future generations’ then we can only hope to see major commitment to doing the right thing and moving towards green energy and energy efficiency – our future generations, indeed most sensible commentators demand action and not just words.

For further analysis on the budget see:

Stuart Fairlie – Head of Technical, Elmhurst Energy

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