Rates of climate change levy until 1 April 2021

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:15 pm on 16th June 2020.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Siobhain McDonagh Siobhain McDonagh Labour, Mitcham and Morden

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 90 stand part.

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

Clauses 89 and 90 ensure that the climate change levy main and reduced rates are updated for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22 to reflect the rates announced at Budget 2018. The climate change levy came into effect in April 2001. It is a UK-wide tax on the non-domestic use of energy from gas, electricity, liquefied petroleum gas and solid fuels. It promotes the efficient use of energy to help to meet the UK’s international and domestic targets for cutting emissions of greenhouse gases. Energy-intensive businesses that participate in the climate change agreements scheme run by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy qualify for reduced rates in return for meeting energy efficiency or carbon reduction targets.

Budget 2016 announced that electricity and gas rates would be equalised by 2025, because electricity is becoming a much cleaner source of energy than gas as we reduce our reliance on coal and use more renewable resources instead. These changes give effect to rate changes announced in 2018 and reaffirm the commitment to equalise the main rates for gas and electricity. The reduced rates will be subject to increases in line with inflation, as in previous years. In order to ensure better consistency in the tax treatment of portable fuels and the off-gas grid market, it was announced in the 2017 Budget that the climate change levy rate for liquefied petroleum gas would be frozen at the 2019-20 level in the years 2020-21 and 2021-22. For that reason, the reduced rate for liquefied petroleum gas that applies to CCA participants will remain set at 23% for the years 2020-21 and 2021-22.

Clauses 89 and 90 will update the climate change levy’s main and reduced rates for 2020-21 and 2021-22, as announced in the 2018 Budget, to reflect that electricity is now a cleaner energy source than gas. The electricity main rate will be lowered, whereas the gas main rate will increase so that it reaches 60% of the electricity rate in 2021-22. The rates were announced over two years ago, to give businesses plenty of notice to prepare for the rate changes. To limit the impact on the CCA scheme, participants will see their climate change levy liability increase by retail price index inflation only. That protects the competitiveness of over 9,000 facilities in energy-intensive industries across 50 sectors. I therefore commend the clause to the Committee.

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

The Chancellor suggested that pollution taxes would increase as a result of his Budget, but Jayne Harrold, PwC’s UK environmental tax leader, said that under the 2020 Budget:

“There was not really an increase in pollution taxes as the Chancellor suggested with the climate change levy (CCL) changes announced. In fact, freezing CCL rates on electricity to level up the gas rate faster based on carbon emissions will reduce the amount of pollution tax applied. Extending climate change agreements for two years is equally minor good news for energy intensive businesses who get significant CCL reliefs.”

Can the Minister give us a sense of what more the Treasury will do to ensure that taxes from polluting behaviour increase?

I also want to probe on the green gas levy. The 2020 Budget promised the introduction of a green gas levy to help fund the use of greener fuels, to work in conjunction with the rise in the climate change levy. When and how do the Government plan to introduce the levy?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

I missed the hon. Member’s last question, but I can write to him on this issue, if he is happy with that. I go back to the question whether we are doing enough to achieve net zero. The answer is that we are going as far as we can, but we must also ensure that we protect the competitiveness of businesses throughout the UK. As announced in 2016, the changes to the climate change levy rates will see electricity and gas main rates equalised. That is being done incrementally—not because we do not want to go far enough, but in order to protect the tax liability of businesses. The Treasury review on the cost of transitioning to net zero will consider the role of tax in the transition. Does that answer the question?

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Shadow Exchequer Secretary (Treasury)

My question was specifically about the changes that the Government plan to make in relation to the green gas levy, which had been announced in the Budget. When and how do the Government plan to introduce the green gas levy?

Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch The Exchequer Secretary

I cannot give the hon. Member an answer to that, but I will definitely write to him. I think officials will be able to brief him on the green gas levy. I cannot talk about it in the context of the climate change levy, which is what we are discussing, but I take his point. It is a good question. It is a Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy competency, which is why I do not have an answer from a Treasury perspective, but I can speak to my counterparts in that Department and get back to him.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 89 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 90 ordered to stand part of the Bill.