Announced only a month after the coalition were elected to power, George Osborne’s June 2010 Budget speech detailed – in a tone still fresh with post-electoral confidence and progressive certainty – new ways in which future tax policy would be better developed, legislated and communicated to the public.
By no means the only example of a renege on – or an inability to live up to – these initial, promising announcements, the government’s recently proposed changes to landfill tax legislation have been met with anger and confusion by skip hire and waste disposal companies operating across the country, leaving an entire industry in a state of uncertainty.
Is this landfill tax rise is clear sign that governments are not prepared to subsidise or invest in protection of the environment?
Not since the landfill tax was first introduced in 1996 has the waste disposal industry been faced with such a profound and radical prospect of complete industry adjustment and reorganisation; reorganisation it may be unable to cope with and might never fully recover from.
On 24th May 2012 Skip hire businesses staged a very noisy protest on Parliament Square over changes to the rules governing landfill tax.
This a rather long video but you can just see the chaos that was created in order to get the message across that skip hire companies mean business when it comes to outrageous landfill taxation and the potential for more fly tipping increases.
Contributing to both general and ‘green’ taxation objectives, the landfill tax was intended to make more financially attractive – to skip hire and other disposal firms – new advanced forms of waste disposal that impacted less negatively on the environment.
In accordance with these objectives, the landfill tax rate has traditionally been dependent on the type of waste being disposed, with inactive waste (principally comprised of materials most often used in building constructions and excavated earth) costing less to dispose of than active waste (various plastics, wood and all other waste). The latest proposals, however, now threaten to change this.
Due to match the £64 per tonne standard tariff for active landfill waste, inactive waste (should the legislation come into effect) is set to see an astronomical 2,460% increase from its current £2.50 per tonne rate.
Less quality waste disposal services means more fly tipping
While undoubtedly brought in to promote more environmentally sound disposal methods, smaller skip hire companies could see the new £64 per tonne inactive waste tariff putting them firmly out of business – or finding them operating on the wrong side of the law, with new concerns of an increase in fly-tipping and inadequate disposal on the horizon.
Shortly after the May amendment was announced a number of skip hire operatives threatened to send more than a thousand skips into central London over May’s four-day Jubilee celebration weekend unless the proposed tax increase was frozen. As you saw in the above video, the protests did take place although it sometimes feels as if they fell on deaf ears.
Nearly three months on, legislative changes have still to come into effect, with the protests prompting the government to release further clarification and guidance as to its intended policy that’s only served to further cloud the issue.
Quite what the future holds for the industry then is unknown, but until more sustainable waste disposal methods are found and actively supported and implemented, the environmental issues that threaten to negatively impact on our environment and quality of life will only grow in number, making any prospect for a successful negotiation between the government and the waste disposal industry on this tax increase issue unfortunately redundant.
More details “A general guide to landfill tax from HMRC”
Img base credit to Free Digital Photos