Intelligence Briefing - 26 March 2010

Published: 26/03/2010

EEF's weekly briefing on the issues affecting manufacturers with our focus on the question Is the Environment Agency ready for the start of CRC?, as well as our regular round up of how we are representing manufacturers and the latest economic indicators.

Delay won on changes to Pregnant Workers Directive

Our lobbying against potentially damaging and costly changes to EU legislation on maternity leave has continued and this week was rewarded with news of a delay to any decision by the European Parliament. Some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have proposed that all Member States should have to provide 20 weeks’ maternity leave at full pay. Over recent weeks, we have argued against these proposed changes in meetings with European Commission officials and MEPs. We have also called for an impact assessment of the changes. It has just been announced that this impact assessment will go ahead with a final vote by the European Parliament being delayed from March to June 2010.

For further information, contact David Yeandle, Head of Employment Policy

Skills policy discussed with Prime Minister’s advisers

EEF last week took part in a seminar with the Prime Minister’s Delivery Unit at HM Treasury on measures to improve the delivery of adult apprenticeships, and stressed the importance of ensuring information to employers is suited to the needs of their sector.

For further information, contact Nigel Fletcher, Skills Adviser

Opportunity for companies to comment on greenhouse gas emissions reporting

Members of our Climate and Environment Policy Committee were briefed by PWC who are undertaking a research project for DEFRA to develop evidence on the relationship between corporate reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GHG) and business behavioural change. This significant project will influence government decisions on whether future regulations should be introduced to require reporting of GHG emissions under the Companies Act 2006. Businesses can contribute to the research project at this evidence gathering stage.

For further information, contact Gareth Stace, Head of Climate and Environment Policy

EEF protests at end-of-waste criteria for steel scrap

Despite the best efforts of EEF to defend the ‘recycler’ status of steelmaking companies, DEFRA looks set to support a European Commission proposal which will change the criteria for what will be defined as metal scrap. If this is approved scrap metal will be declassified as a waste once it has been collected, sorted and cleaned, and not when it has been melted in the furnace. This would result in scrap processors being considered the recyclers of scrap steel and not steelmakers. This is important for steel-makers for financial reasons – it will impact on their ability to receive revenue from Packaging Recovery Notes (PRNs) – and for presentational reasons, as they will now be unable to highlight the level of recycled material in their product. This is often an important consideration in procurement contracts.

For further information, contact Kevin Considine, Senior Climate & Environment Policy Adviser.

Weekly Focus

Is the Environment Agency ready for the start of CRC?

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (formally known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment) starts in three weeks, yet many companies are either unaware of their legal obligation, or are still struggling to get to grips with the complexity of this scheme, which will affect up to 30 per cent of EEF member companies.

Despite the scheme being announced over three years ago, a number of factors have contributed to this lack of awareness. In particular the three government consultations which have accompanied this proposal seem to have changed the structure and rules of the scheme at every turn. At the same time the Environment Agency appears to lack the resources to cope with running the scheme for government.

Final guidance of CRC was only published late in 2009 for a mandatory scheme that captures all organisations with an annual electricity consumption of more than 6,000MW. This was helpful, but one crucial chapter was not included. This missing chapter will set out how companies should be monitoring and reporting all carbon emissions from April 2010 onward. The Environment Agency has promised that this will now be published before April.

The Environment Agency is also running an advice service for organisations, but this is receiving extremely high demand; indeed some members who have made enquiries have received only “holding emails” within the 10 day service level agreement deadline and have had to wait much longer to a final answer. After lobbying by EEF, the Agency is now increasing its resource in this area and is also adding a telephone helpline in addition to the email service. DECC has also promised to work with the Environment Agency to iron out these problems and ensure that the guidance is out before the scheme starts, but EEF will continue to offer advice and support to members in this area.

For more information on CRC and other climate & environment policy issues, contact Gareth Stace, Head of Climate & Environment Policy

In the news

Ahead of the election more policy themes are emerging from the Tory Party and we responded to the publication of Sir James Dyson's report on boosting science and engineering, welcoming his recommendation on R&D tax credits which was reported in The Guardian and FT (requires subscription). We also responded to the latest manufacturing output data, expressing surprise at the latest fall in comments on the BBC and Guardian. We also released our latest environment survey to the press in, with an excellent article appearing in Works Management Magazine, and our concerns outlined above on the forthcoming Carbon Reduction Commitment were reported in the FT.

Week in review

UK trade deficit

The UK’s trade deficit widened in January, against expectations. Total exports fell by over 4% and exports of manufactured goods declined by more than 5%. The figures were surprising given the more positive survey reports from manufacturing since the beginning of the year. Some analysts put the drop down to adverse weather in January. However the fall could well be a blip as the underlying trend over the past 6 months has been one of growth.

Industrial production

Manufacturing data in January showed a similar picture to the trade statistics, with a 0.8% month on month fall in production. This followed a 0.9% increase in December. The index of production series can be volatile on a monthly basis. However, for the first time since April 2008, manufacturing output was higher than a year ago.

The week ahead

Tuesday 16th: Labour Market Statistics
Thursday 18th: MPC Minutes

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22 October 2014 - 9:30am-3:00pm at Plessey Semiconductors, Plymouth

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30 September 2014 - 09:30-12:00 at EEF, Bristol

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