Budget 2014: Recognition For Manufacturers
Manufacturing Northern Ireland welcome many of the elements of today’s Budget Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. In particular, the decision to cap the Carbon Price Support rate at £18 per ton of CO2 from 2016-17 for the rest of the decade will impact on energy bills for our members with plants in GB, alleviating some of the pressures on spiralling prices and our competitiveness in markets internationally. Removing CHP gas from the carbon levy is good news for some of our larger manufacturers who have invested in combined heat and power plants to fix and reduce energy costs.
There is real recognition that energy prices are hurting economic prospects and we hope that initiatives announced by the Chancellor can be supported here as we remain 20% more expensive than in GB and indeed the Republic of Ireland.
The decision to allow our first Enterprise Zone is also welcomed but should be seen as not only a place for data centres, but as a place to invest in manufacturing plants, particularly with 100% allowance on capital investment in the first year. We hope this is the first of other Enterprise Zones to be announced by the NI Executive. The interventions to support Apprenticeships are interesting, particularly as our Minister for Employment and Learning is currently consulting on his vision for a new apprenticeship scheme. Putting the employer in the driving seat will be successful in our view.
There is an immediate need to invest in productive businesses and getting people back into work. This is particularly important given the impending cuts in public expenditure which will likely impact Northern Ireland more than other regions. As with all Budgets, the detail requires examination over the coming days but we hope that our local Executive sees the UK Government’s determination to support for manufacturing and introduces a series of interventions that will create the competitive environment in which manufacturers can invest, employ and export.