Government Needs to Back the Chancellor’s Commitment and Support Cement and Lime Manufacturing and SMEs
On Monday 3 October, the Chancellor of the Exchequer told his Party Conference: “Now we know that a decade of environmental laws and regulations are piling costs on the energy bills of households and companies..... We’re not going to save the planet by putting our country out of business”. “I could not agree more with the sentiment” said Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of the Mineral Products Association, “and look forward to seeing how that welcome statement translates into positive action to reduce the complexity and plethora of energy related legislation that exists, as well as the actual amount of additional cost that this industry now faces.”
Commenting ahead of the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement, expected on 29 November, Jackson stressed the importance of keeping nationally strategically important energy intensive industries, such as cement and lime, in this country. Cement is a key constituent of concrete and our homes, schools, hospitals, transport infrastructure and much more all depend on this essential material. Uses of lime include the filtration plants required for the supply of clean water supply we all take for granted, yet these industries face increasing energy costs and green taxes that could drive them overseas to cheaper areas of production. Such a move would not only threaten our security of supply but would simply export jobs and carbon for no environmental gain.
Jackson said, “When the Chancellor announces the government’s proposed package of help on energy costs for those energy intensive industries at risk of ‘carbon leakage’ we need to see the cement and lime industries included. Government must act decisively to signal that it wants to retain viable domestic cement and lime industries in the UK.”
At the same time, the Chancellor must also support SMEs suffering under the weight of increasing energy taxes. The cumulative impacts of the Carbon Reduction Commitment, the Climate Change Levy, and now the Carbon Price Floor (the cost of which will be passed on by the energy companies) are already problematic and will increasingly impact seriously on the costs of many businesses. The Prime Minister, the Chancellor and the Business Secretary have all said they want to rebalance the economy and boost manufacturing as part of the country’s economic recovery strategy. Piling costs on the very businesses that can create jobs and drive growth is not the way out of our economic problems.
Jackson stressed, “This is the Chancellor’s opportunity to put his words into practice and help protect British jobs, British manufacturing and British business. We need this Government to be the most enterprising ever.”