Autumn Statement 2013: Reduce energy costs for manufacturers

 

As part of our preview of Autumn Statement 2013, Ginni Cooper, corporate services director at Moore and Smalley, offers her thoughts on what government can do to help manufacturing and engineering businesses. I would tend to agree with the EEF’s recent call for the chancellor to reduce energy costs for businesses; though achieving this through scrapping green levies is always going to be controversial.

 

That said energy prices in the UK are rising much faster than elsewhere in Europe, which is squeezing margins and putting UK manufacturers at a competitive disadvantage to their counterparts on the continent.

 

Energy prices have become a politically charged issue in recent months, following Labour’s plans to force energy companies to freeze bills, David Cameron’s alleged comments about ‘cutting the green crap’, and recent price rises announced by the big energy companies. This could make it more likely that we some form of action taken to reduce energy costs.

 

Elsewhere, I’d like to see more investment announced for developing engineering and manufacturing skills. Much has been made of the trend for UK businesses re-shoring their manufacturing operations and supply chain, but for this to continue we need to have the right skills here.

 

Finally, I’d like the chancellor give a clear indication of what is going to happen with the Annual Investment Allowance post 2014. The finite window of two years for businesses to take advantage of the increase in the AIA from £25,000 to £250,000 was clearly aimed at boosting growth in the short-term, but now the recovery has taken hold we need to enable better long-term investment planning.