Gifts Today magazine

Ceramics industry reacts to Budget

The British Ceramic Confederation delivers its reaction to the UK’s 2017 Spring Budget held last week

Several of the Chancellor’s announcements during the Spring Budget have been welcomed by the trade association for ceramics manufacturers, but the budget did not address concerns about business costs the organisation has warned.

The British Ceramic Confederation’s Policy Manager, Tom Reynolds comments: “The funding and tax simplification for research and development announced by the Chancellor will be well received by our members. However, the budget was a missed opportunity to deal with the high cost of energy that is preventing our industry from achieving its full potential.”

The Chancellor’s announcement of £300 million to support research and development along with £270 million to develop disruptive technologies is welcome. Our members will be keen to hear whether and how they can access and benefit from the package. 

We are also pleased to see that the administration burdens associated with research and development tax credits will be reduced. The funding to improve technical education in the UK is also positive and will help to ensure there is a future generation of recruits who are work-ready for our industry.

In a number of areas we eagerly await detail that is to be announced in the coming weeks. On business rates, the £300 million discretionary fund announced by the Chancellor to help companies may assist some members, but this will depend on how local authorities implement the scheme.  The ceramic industry has a sizable cluster in North Staffordshire and the wider Midlands, so the Chancellor’s confirmation that the Midlands Engine Strategy will be launched tomorrow will be of key interest to the sector.

As an energy intensive industry, the British Ceramic Confederation is disappointed that the Chancellor did not take the opportunity to address the UK’s high industrial energy costs. For some time we’ve been calling for the abolition of the carbon price floor and a widening of compensation for climate related costs to more of our members – but the Chancellor has not acted in these areas. 

We also note that the Budget document states that the Government remains committed to carbon pricing to help decarbonise the power sector and will target a total carbon price from 2021-22, with further details in the autumn budget. We remain concerned that this may suggest industrial electricity costs could continue to be much higher than our European competitors.

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