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Actuate UK calls for Budget to support sustainable engineering services sector

Engineering services alliance Actuate UK has called on the Chancellor to use the upcoming Budget to confirm the Government’s commitment to a green economic recovery with incentives that support positive changes to the sector.

Actuate UK wants the forthcoming Budget to be the basis for long-term, comprehensive and simple to access support for energy efficiency related work for homes and buildings. In addition, the alliance would like Government to use their power as a major procurer to reward businesses who demonstrate good practice and support skills development and quality in the sector.

Actuate UK is calling on the Treasury in the upcoming Budget to:

  • Reduce VAT to at least 5% or zero for energy efficient products and ensure there is clear, unambiguous application and guidance from HMRC for the use of this reduced rate.
  • Release all the original Green Homes Grant funding, ensuring the full £2 billion is available until March 2022. And act swiftly to resolve the administration problems with the scheme based on current feedback.

The industry believes in order to meet the Government’s climate goals long-term commitment and planning is needed. This should include achievable and enforceable changes to drive consumer behaviour.

Actuate UK would like to see Government use its purchasing power in infrastructure development to:

  • Reward engineering services businesses that adhere to public sector procurement guidelines, such as the Construction Playbook, and especially businesses that adopt direct employment in the sector and support the skills and training of their workforce.

Actuate UK welcomes implementation of IR35 reforms in the private sector from 6 April as an important step in promoting direct employment and closing down one route to illegitimate avoidance of tax and national insurance contributions. However, it adds:

  • We ask for urgent clarification from HMRC on scope of the terms ‘supervision, direction or control’ under the 2014 intermediaries’ legislation. And to confirm that avoidance of the IR35 reforms by this means shall be deemed unlawful, void and to no effect.

We are increasingly concerned by widely publicised claims from tax advisers and employment intermediaries that skilled ‘self-employed’ personnel can simply be switched back from personal service companies to engagement via payroll companies and other intermediaries based on an unduly narrow interpretation of 'supervision, direction or control'.

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