Landfill tax: rates from 1 April 2017

Finance Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 2:00 pm ar 7 Gorffennaf 2016.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

With this it will be convenient to discuss clause 131 stand part.

Photo of Rebecca Long-Bailey Rebecca Long-Bailey Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Member, Labour Party National Executive Committee

I will be very brief. Clauses 130 and 131 increase the rates of landfill tax in line with retail prices index inflation from 1 April 2017 and 1 April 2018. We have no issues with that change and support the clauses. However, it would be helpful if the Minister could provide the latest figures for the levels of waste being sent to landfill in comparison with last year. After all, the purpose of the tax is to reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill, so it would be good to know if it is working in practice.

On a similar note, the 2016 Budget announced a consultation on landfill tax reform over the summer. I understand that there is an intention to consult on amending the definition of a taxable disposal of waste at a landfill site and clarifying the scope of the tax. According to the ENTRUST website, full proposals are being set out in a document later in 2016 and any changes legislated for in the Finance Bill 2017. Will the Minister confirm the exact timetable, if he is aware of it, for that consultation?

Finally, as the Financial Secretary and the Exchequer Secretary will no doubt be aware, the Government carried out a consultation on reforming the landfill communities fund last year. The LCF provides funding for certain specified projects in an area affected by a landfill site. Draft regulations were then published that would make a detrimental change to the way the fund operates. The regulations proposed the removal of provisions for third parties to contribute 10% of landfill operators’ contributions to projects, and instead make it compulsory for landfill operators to fund the 10% themselves.

As the scheme is voluntary, stakeholders were rightly concerned that landfill operators would simply withdraw from the scheme and that an important funding stream would be lost. I wrote a submission to the consultation on the regulations, and I am pleased to say that the Government withdrew that particular part of the regulations, which were subsequently laid before the House on Budget day. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Ministers for taking my advice.

Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds The Exchequer Secretary

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship once again, Mr Howarth. As the hon. Lady said, clauses 130 and 131 increase both the standard and lower rates of landfill tax in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in line with RPI from April 2017 and again from April 2018. She asked how successful landfill tax has been in reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill. Although I do not have the year-on-year figures in front of me, since 1996, when landfill tax was introduced, the amount of waste disposed of at landfill sites has nearly halved, while recycling rates have increased threefold. Of course, reducing landfilling of waste benefits the economy, as we make better use of valuable resources rather than throwing them away. At the same time it helps us reduce greenhouse gas emissions from decomposing waste and meet our climate change targets.

When disposed of at a landfill site, each tonne of standard-rated material is currently taxed at £84.40. Less environmentally damaging waste pays the lower rate of £2.65 per tonne. The clauses make amendments to the Finance Act 1996 to increase the standard and lower rates of landfill tax in line with inflation, based on the RPI, rounded to the nearest 5p. The changes will therefore see rates per tonne of £86.10 and £2.70 respectively from 1 April 2017 and £88.95 and £2.80 respectively from 1 April 2018.

Landfill tax already provides a disincentive to landfill by making it an expensive waste treatment method compared with alternatives. By increasing rates in line with inflation, we maintain the incentive for industry to continue the move towards a more sustainable circular economy. In addition, we know that certainty is important to the waste management industry. The clauses will mean that businesses can have the confidence to invest in new facilities and technology, knowing that those will offer a long-term, economically viable alternative to landfill. That is why the changes will set rates as far ahead as March 2019. The clauses provide certainty on both the standard and lower rates of landfill tax, confirming that they will not be eroded by inflation and maintaining the incentives to invest in more sustainable waste treatment.

I note the hon. Lady’s comments on the landfill communities fund. Of course, the Government decided to retain and reform that fund, and she is correct about the changes made and then adapted on the 10% contribution. The guidance from ENTRUST does encourage operators to make that type of contribution. The hon. Lady also asked about the consultation on the definitions for types of waste. The consultation runs from 26 May until 18 August.

In conclusion, clauses 130 and 131 increase the rate of landfill tax in line with inflation from 1 April 2017, and again from 1 April 2018, as announced in the 2016 Budget. I hope that they can stand part of the Bill.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 130 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 131 ordered to stand part of the Bill.

Clause 137