Media and politics

In an article for our website ahead of next month's UK Budget, Jason Collins, Chair of our Climate Change Working Group, reflects on a significant  recent government report on the environment and outlines the challlenges with emissions trading schemes. Jason is also a partner at Pinsent Masons.

A new report by the National Audit Office (NAO) examines how the Treasury and HMRC manage tax measures with environmental objectives, including the work undertaken to design, monitor and evaluate them. It explores how these ‘exchequer departments’ use their resources to manage the relationship between the wider tax system and the Government’s environmental goals, including its statutory commitment for the UK to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) published its ‘Growing back better: putting nature and net zero at the heart of the economic recovery’ report last week (17 Feb) which includes a call for VAT reductions to encourage energy efficiency, the use of recycled materials, and repair services.

MPs who make up the House of Commons Treasury Committee have published their latest report on the Economic Impact of Coronavirus, claiming there is scant justification for the Government not to have addressed the ‘hard edges’ of the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) by now and calling for government support to be extended to those missing out, including limited company directors, the newly self-employed and self-employed people with higher earnings.

In a guest blog, Robin Williamson MBE, CTA (Fellow), an author and commentator on tax and welfare issues, looks forward to next month's Budget, saying it may prove to be more interesting than many yet,

MPs debated an e-petition titled Extend the Stamp Duty Holiday for an additional six months after 31st March 2021, which has been signed by more than 140,000 members of the public, on Monday 1 February. There was unity among MPs in the debate in agreeing that stamp duty land tax (SDLT) needs a longer-term look, although this was not the specific subject of the debate. A number of MPs spoke in favour of a tapered winding down of the ‘holiday’.

Members of the Welsh Senedd (Welsh Parliament) debated the Draft Welsh Budget 2021-22 on Tuesday (Feb 9). It was a wide-ranging debate, focused on spending plans and the budget process, with little discussion of tax changes. Members of the Senedd voted on two opposition amendments, neither of which were successful.

A Conservative peer has suggested reforms to legislation and taxation relating to rural landlords and the letting of land. Opening a debate which lasted just over an hour, Baroness Rock said the tenanted sector of agriculture is adversely affected by short-term thinking, but the Tenant Farmers Association (TFA) has put forward tax changes to address this, and the Government should look at these.

MPs debated and passed two VAT statutory instruments (SIs) that relate to the UK’s exit from the EU, in the Commons this week (3). The Opposition did not oppose either.

MPs have rejected an SNP attempt to keep the VAT Retail Export Scheme. In a vote following a debate on Wednesday (3) they voted by 353 votes to 74 not to revoke the Travellers’ Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 (SI, 2020, No. 1412).