Chancellor serves some aces but double faults on training levy

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Commenting on the Budget, Terry Scuoler, Chief Executive of EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said:

“The Chancellor has served up a number of aces in supporting business investment allowances, plans to cut employer national insurance contributions, phased reductions in corporation tax and funding for road improvements. His commitment to defence funding is welcome and will encourage investment in key technologies. I also support the principle of establishing a new national living wage.

“However he has double faulted on the training levy which manufacturers will be sceptical about. Until we see the detail it is not clear how this will help deliver the high quality apprenticeships we urgently need. Employers must be in the driving seat on this reform to ensure we get the right quality of apprenticeships and training. There will be no tolerance for recreating the failed skills bureaucracy of the past.

“The budget clearly recognises the need to prioritise measures which lay long-term foundations for sustainable growth and improved productivity. Industry will welcome the fact this has remained the focus of attention despite the tough choices which are necessary to balance the books.”

On proposals for a training levy, Paul Raynes Director of Policy at EEF, said:

“Manufacturers will be sceptical about a training levy, especially as their financial investment in high quality apprenticeships already far outweighs the public subsidy available to them. The Chancellor has given welcome reassurance that the levy would only apply to large firms and will be directly controlled by employers.

“We look forward to discussing with the government the best way to ensure every penny raised would be spent on valuable training that employers actually need and want. There will be no tolerance among businesses for re-creating the failed and costly skills bureaucracy of the past.”

On the changes to business taxation, Ms Lee Hopley, Chief Economist at EEF, said:

“The Chancellor put predictability and stability at the centre of some welcome tax measures for industry.  Confirmation that the investment allowance will proceed on a permanent basis at £200,000 ends the seven year rollercoaster ride this part of the tax system has been on.  It will give small businesses, in particular, the certainty they need about how investments in productivity enhancing equipment will be treated for tax purposes.

“Businesses large and small will also welcome the government giving forward visibility of the phasing of lower Corporation Tax rate as public finances allow. Importantly, a new corporate tax roadmap promised by April 2016 sees the Chancellor maintaining good form on giving business visibility about future priorities for reform.”

On road funding, Paul Raynes Director of Policy at EEF, said:

“Roads are the backbone of the economy and the Chancellor is right to recreate the principle that road tax pays for just what it says it does. However, it would make most sense to allocate protected money to repairing the 97 per cent of the network that is in the worst condition, rather than to the motorways that least need maintaining and will always get the most attention.”

On the review of energy taxation and levies, Paul Raynes, Director of Policy at EEF said:

“Industry will welcome a review of energy taxation and levies. Fifteen years of layering and tinkering with policy has left us with a vast patchwork of expensive, inefficient and incoherent policy drivers for decarbonisation. We urgently need to revisit the policy landscape to reduce costs, improve the business environment and better deliver on our policy objective of reducing emissions.”

On changes to Pensions Tax Relief, Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy at EEF, said:

“Pensions need long term stability in order to provide sustainable incomes in retirement and Tax relief is an integral element in incentivising pension saving. Any future change must not risk a reduction in pension contributions either by workers or from their employers.”

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