MPA: Budget generally positive, concerns remain

MPA: Budget generally positive, concerns remain
Published: 21 March 2014


Reacting to the UK Budget 2014 announcement earlier this week, the Mineral Products Association (MPA) said the measures outlined are generally positive for the mineral products sector, but support for energy intensive industries remains a major concern.
 
In a statement released yesterday, the MPA said that in overall terms it welcomes the measures announced on Wednesday and is encouraged by the Economic and Public Expenditure forecasts. However, its outstanding concern is that the Budget measures designed to support and compensate energy intensive Industries will be of limited value to the sector unless the cement and lime industries are in scope for support.

Positive news for the mineral products sector, as highlighted by the MPA, is:
• the Aggregates Levy will remain frozen at GBP2/t for 2014/15
• Climate Change Levy relief for the asphalt, cement, ready mixed concrete and concrete products, lime, mortar and dimension stone industries has been announced
• further support for energy intensive industries has been announced, but a significant MPA concern is that cement and lime may not benefit sufficiently
•  additional funding of GBP200m has been announced for road maintenance and GBP140m for flood defences;
• ‘Help to Buy’ will be extended to 2020 and there will be further initiatives to encourage housing development;
•  The economic outlook is improving. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts GDP growth of 2.7 per cent this year, 2.3 per cent in 2015 and 2.6 per cent in 2016 and 2017.

Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, said: “The Aggregates Levy freeze and Climate Change Levy relief for mineralogical industries have been key areas of MPA representation.  These announcements are great news which will yield important cost savings as the industry recovers from five very tough years of demand 30 per cent below pre-recession levels. Furthermore, the additional funding for road maintenance and flood defences and continuing support for new house building through the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme will help boost key construction markets. MPA was also pleased to see the time extension and increased value of the Annual Investment Allowance, which MPA had called for, and the widening of the scope of Mineral Extraction Allowances to include planning costs.

“Our outstanding concern is that cement and lime should be brought into scope of the measures designed to support and compensate energy intensive industries. Unless these essential products are added to the approved list of energy intensive industries there will be major additional energy and climate change related costs incurred by these indigenous industries, which will seriously damage competitiveness."

Mr Jackson added: “We are disappointed that the suspension of certain Aggregates Levy exemptions from 1 April will lead to some increases in the scope of the Levy relating to clay, but Government has listened to MPA calls for clay for quarry restoration to continue to be exempt."

“Overall this package of Budget measures is likely to reduce uncertainty and encourage investment as the recovery gathers momentum," he concluded.