The announcement at last year’s Autumn Statement that the major annual fiscal event would move to the autumn from this year, it is perhaps unsurprising that today’s Budget did not contain much in the way of significant announcements.
UK Steel’s core asks around energy efficiency funds, tackling the electricity price disparity and removing plant and machinery from the business rates regime went unanswered and we will now additionally look to pursue these objectives through the development of a sector deal in the months ahead. Concurrent with this, UK Steel has today put out this short comment;
Commenting on today’s Budget announcement, Gareth Stace, Director of UK Steel, said;
“The steel sector, along with many others, was looking to today’s budget to lay some of the groundwork for the forthcoming industrial strategy. Whilst a comprehensive strategy will be made up of many components and must be a collaborative and progressive endeavour between industry and the government, we believe the bedrock on which to build this is the establishment of a truly competitive business environment.
“The lack of any concrete action to address the long standing disadvantages that our sector faces, such as the business rates regime or high electricity prices, represents a real missed opportunity.
“We must now look to the development of a steel sector deal to address these issues and will work closely with the government in the months ahead to produce a truly ambitious plan that delivers for both us and the wider economy.”
The sector’s call for the provision of a budget for RO/FiTs compensation to continue until the introduction of an exemption was not mentioned in the Budget documentation, but members will be aware that BEIS has previously provided confirmation that this will be the case. BEIS officials will be attending the Steel Activities Board on 16 March to update members on this and answer questions.
Relevant elements of today’s Budget are as follows:
T-levels - 16-19 Education: The Government will invest an additional £500 million from 2019/20 on 16-19 year old technical education. The new investment in ‘T-levels’ will aim to increase teaching/training time by 50 per cent to an average of 900 hours a year and require the completion of high quality industrial placements within courses.
Technical Education Maintenance Loans: To place T-levels on parity with more academic courses, the Government will introduce loans, equivalent to those available to university students, for those studying at levels 4 to 6 in National Colleges and Institutes of Technology.
Lifelong Learning Pilots: The Government will invest £40 million over the next two years on testing new approaches to help people retrain and upskill throughout their working lives.
Carbon Pricing: The Government confirmed its commitment to carbon pricing in the 2020s, aiming for a single carbon price from 2021/22 moving from the current system of a two part carbon price made up of the EU ETS and the Carbon Price Floor. Further details on carbon price levels for the 2020s will be set out in the Autumn Budget 2017.
Levy Control Framework: The Government announced it will move away from the Levy Control Framework system (the annual cap on total energy consumer spending on supporting low carbon electricity), but provided no precise dates or details. A ‘new set of controls’ will be put in place in due course and details will be announced later this year.
National Productivity Investment Fund
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: A new fund will be established in 2017/18 to support collaboration between businesses and the UK’s science base. An investment of £270 million will be provided in 2017/18. Initial projects funded by this will be limited to electric vehicles, robotics and medicine manufacture, but with the intention for the fund to aid other sectors and technologies in future years.
Talent Funding: The National Productivity Investment Fund will provide £250 million over the next four years to foster and support research talent in the UK.
All Budget documents can be found here