During the past decade, a raft of energy legislation aimed at cutting CO2 emissions has made Britain globally uncompetitive, leading to the loss of 87% of the country’s primary aluminium production capacity.
But a series of meetings with parliamentarians and government ministers during the past 12 months appears to have had a significant impact on policymakers’ approach to aluminium and the wider manufacturing sector, heralding growth in sector confidence.
The aluminium industry is hailing: moves to compensate energy intensive industries (EIIs) for costs of energy taxes; a cap on the Carbon Price Floor at £18 per tonne; funding for grants for tens of thousands of apprentices; and funding for a UK Manufacturing Industrial Strategy scoping study to map out the long-term future of the sector.
Will Savage, CEO of ALFED, said: “It is now clear that the current UK Government regards manufacturing as a sector which can deliver wealth to the UK economy. This was reflected in the Budget earlier this spring and also through the on-going discussions we’re having at ministerial level.
“But there is more to be done and we need to remain on guard. We’re going to be stepping up our engagement with politicians and civil servants in order to build on the current momentum and ensure that government policy continues to be supportive of British manufacturing.
“It’s important to stress for some in our sector, the payback period on investment can be up to 15 to 20 years, so it’s vital that there is confidence in the British economy over the long-term.”
Whilst sector friendly measures have been introduced, there are still issues to be resolved, such as aligning energy costs for energy intensive industries with mainland Europe and bringing forward some of the compensation policies announced in the Budget.
ALFED will continue its engagement with government ministers this year, with meetings with Minister for Business and Energy Michael Fallon and Skills Minister Matthew Hancock.