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Budget missed opportunity to use tax to help the UK achieve its net zero target

  • Tax changes to carbon-intensive sectors in the Budget amount to support totalling £8.3bn, compared to just £225m worth of green tax incentives
  • Tax system could be used to encourage better behaviour towards the environment, says Pinsent Masons

Budget 2021 has missed the opportunity to incentivise taxpayers to help achieve net zero, says Pinsent Masons, the multinational law firm.

Whilst the Chancellor has announced tax changes to encourage businesses to invest in green technology. The Chancellor has also announced a cut in Fuel Duty and Air Passenger Duty, potentially denting the UK’s plans to meet its climate targets.

With COP26 around the corner, Pinsent Masons says the changes to taxes announced in the Budget are a missed opportunity for the UK to use tax to meet its climate goals.

Steven Porter, Head of Tax Disputes and Investigations at Pinsent Masons, says: “Many are now calling for the UK to use its tax system to help move us closer to net zero. Some will see this year’s Budget as a missed opportunity to achieve that.”

“Whilst the Government is committing plenty of money to green expenditure, it’s not yet using the tax lever effectively.”

Green taxes and tax changes

Tax changes to carbon-intensive sectors in the Budget amount to support worth £8.3bn over five years, compared to just £225m worth for green tax incentives.

Tax measures announced in the Budget to help businesses to become greener include:

  • Business rate exemptions to help firms decarbonise their buildings – £175m worth of tax cuts to 2026/27
  • Carbon price support rates – £50m worth of tax cuts to 2026/27

However, tax support available to carbon-intensive sectors totals £8.3bn over five years. This includes:

  • A reduction in Fuel duty worth £7.85bn over the next five years
  • A suspension of the HGV road user levy worth £255m over the next five years
  • A reduction in Air Passenger Duty worth £130m over the next five years
  • A freeze on Vehicle Excise Duty worth £65m over the next five years

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