EEF News Comment for PWE

Published:  04 May, 2011

By EEF chief executive, Terry Scuoler

March’s Budget was the most anticipated for some time with all the talk being whether it would be a Budget for Growth and make Britain a measurably better place for manufacturers to invest and grow their businesses.
Given the measures that the Budget announced and the direction of travel that it sketched out, the answers to this has to be yes, though there is still a lot of work for the Coalition to do. One of the most pleasing aspects of the Chancellor’s speech and the accompanying Plan for Growth was its acknowledgement that Britain is in an international race for investment and that action was urgently needed to catch up with competing locations across the globe. This was never going to be a job for just one Budget and in any race your competitors are never standing still.    
We had cuts in corporation tax, an extension of the short life assets regime, a boost for apprenticeships and a range of other helpful measures. But, there is still much work to do in tackling problems of access to and the cost of finance with meaningful proposals to reform the Banking system and increase competition. There will also be much for the government to do to translate its welcome words on regulation from Brussels and closer to home into meaningful reductions in the burden of regulation.
But most pressing of all is the need to address the threat to competitiveness posed by the government’s policies on climate change, particularly its plan to introduce a carbon price floor above expected levels. While we need to encourage investment in new low carbon energy sources, this measure will harm our competitiveness relative to the rest of Europe. And while there were improvements to climate change agreements, some manufacturers face being taxed four different ways on their energy bills.   
In the coming months, EEF will be campaigning to reconsider its carbon price plans and to take a fresh look at environmental taxation as a whole. We also be stepping up our campaigning to ensure Britain’s manufacturers have the flexibility they need in their workplaces. There is still a lot to be done to create the right environment for UK manufacturing but we should acknowledge the good start made by March’s Budget.  

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