Intelligence Briefing 21st January 2016

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In this issue: EEF meets with Government and Opposition to discuss Devolution in England | EEF meets the Prime Minister’s new adviser on apprenticeships | Briefing Labour party on employment and health and safety policy | BIS seeks employers’ views on operation of Apprenticeship Levy | Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Scheme Opens for Applications | In the media | Week in Review | The week ahead | Blogs from this week                                               

EEF meets with Government and Opposition to discuss Devolution in England

EEF had an introductory meeting with James Wharton MP, Minister for Local Growth and the Northern Powerhouse. We covered manufacturer’s views on devolution and areas where the government is making good progress. This was based on our recent report Devolution in England - the business plan.

Separately, EEF also met this week with Steve Reed MP, Shadow Local Government Minister. We shared members views on business rates retention, transparency and business engagement around the Devolution Deals process, and the current state of manufacturing.

EEF will continue our engagement with Ministers and Parliamentarians as the shape of the devolution agenda continues across England this year. We will also be stepping up our engagement with local stakeholders in the run up to elections this year and in 2017.

For more information contact Chris Richards, Senior Business Environment Policy Adviser

EEF meets the Prime Minister’s new adviser on apprenticeships

This week EEF met the Prime Minister’s new adviser on apprenticeships, Nadhim Zahawi MP, to brief him manufacturers’ priorities in the crucial area of apprenticeships and skills. There was particular discussion around how better careers advice in schools could better increase the number of young people taking up engineering apprenticeships, and incentivise engineering careers more generally. EEF will continue to brief Mr Zahawi on policy developments within his role.

For more information contact Celia Charlwood, Government Affairs Adviser

Briefing Labour party on employment and health and safety policy

This week EEF held an introductory meeting with Owen Smith MP, the Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. This provided an opportunity to brief him on state pension reform, pensions tax relief and issues around health and safety reform in the EU and UK – important issues for a wide range of our members. We will continue to brief all parties on our members’ top priories in the coming months.

For more information contact Rocky Lorusso, Head of Government Affairs

BIS seeks employers’ views on operation of Apprenticeship Levy

Many EEF members will be aware that the government is introducing a new apprenticeship levy. The new levy will be introduced from April 2017 and will ultimately replace the current public funding for apprenticeships. It will raise sufficient funding so that even those employers that do not pay into the levy will access funding from the levy pot. The rationale for the levy, and increase in funding, is for the government to achieve its target to create 3 million apprenticeships over this Parliament.

The levy rate has been set at 0.5% of an employers’ paybill. It will be collected via PAYE and will operate in a similar way to PAYE and NI. All employers will receive an allowance of £15,000, the effect of this allowance means that the levy is only payable on a paybill in excess of £3m. A full EEF briefing on the levy can be found here. As part of the on-going consultation with employers, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) Digital Apprenticeship Team is surveying employers to better understand how employers would like to access their levy funds and pay it out to training providers. Given the importance of this topic, we urge members to complete the survey, which can be found here.

If members would like to provide additional feedback on the levy please contact Verity O’Keefe

Energy Intensive Industry Compensation Scheme Opens for Applications

On Tuesday of this week, the government published long-awaited guidance and application forms which opens up the application process for energy intensive companies to receive compensation in relation to the costs of the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in-Tariffs. Together these policies can account for around 20% of a large energy user’s electricity bills and compensation will reduce the impact by 85%. Those applicants meeting the required qualification criteria will receive payments as soon as applications are approved, and payments will be back-dated to 14 December 2015 when the EU Commission first provided state aid approval.

A second state aid application remains with the Commission, which concerns companies not meeting the qualification criteria but in direct competition with those that are receiving compensation. UK officials hope to receive a response by the end of this month.

For more information contact Richard Warren, Senior Energy & Environment Policy Adviser

In the media

The week’s media coverage has been dominated by the announcement of job losses in the steel sector. UK Steel was quoted widely in the FT (subscription required, separate article links are available here, here and here), Guardian here and here and Daily Telegraph here and here both ahead of and following the announcement, taking the opportunity to re-inforce our calls for stronger action at UK and EU level. Gareth Stace, UK Steel Director was interviewed widely including Radio 4’s The World at One, 5Live and BBC News Channel as well as appearing as the lead interviewee on the Ian King show on Sky. EEF was also quoted in articles on the economy in the Sunday Telegraph and export support in the FT.

Week in review

Consumer prices

CPI inflation was 0.2% in the year to December 2015, compared with a 0.1% in the year to November 2015. This was the fastest pace of increase in the CPI since January and left inflation flat for 2015 as a whole. The main influences on inflation in the year to December were further falls in food and beverage prices, but this was offset by increases in some services, notably hotels and restaurants.

Labour market statistics

The employment rate hit another record high in the three months to November, rising to 74%. At the same time the ILO unemployment rate fell to 5.2%. The Claimant Count rate was unchanged at 2.3%.

The week ahead

28th January: GDP (2015 q4, first estimate)

Blogs from this week

18 Jan 2016
A round up of economic releases in the week ahead by Lee Hopley

19 Jan 2016
Matthew Elliott, Chief Executive at Vote Leave, believes that UK businesses will thrive outside the EU. by Matthew Elliott

19 Jan 2016
Damian Green MP believes Britain is stronger, safer and better off in the EU than it would be on its own. by Damian Green

19 Jan 2016
The EU's Emissions Trading System demonstrably fails to even safeguard Europe’s best performing sites. by Nick Troja

20 Jan 2016
Will the National Infrastructure Commission make a difference? by Chris Richards

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