Clause 314 - Deposit schemes

Part of Finance (No. 2) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:45 am ar 18 Mai 2023.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Financial Secretary to the Treasury 11:45, 18 Mai 2023

Again, I am trying to be terribly tactful about how I put this. There has been so much discussion between officials behind the scenes. Scotland has wanted to run ahead with its scheme. Frankly, there were some significant intellectual debates about how VAT is dealt with in this scenario. If the hon. Member—I am not pressing him because I know this is not his portfolio—or others in the Scottish Government want a little breathing space to check that we are all going in the right direction, that is of course a matter for them.

We are committed to implementing the scheme in 2025, but it will need a lot of publicising as to the impacts for consumers. We will all want to encourage our constituents to either use their own drinking vessels wherever possible or to return their bottles and cans when they can, but we have tried to simplify the VAT so that the larger producers will be the target of that first stage of VAT accounting.

On the complications, as I say, we have tried to simplify the scheme. One can imagine the scenario where if we were accounting for VAT at every single stage of the transaction process, that would be a nightmare for the tiny retail shops that we all care so much about. That is a good example of two of the three objectives that I set His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Treasury to ensure taxes are fair and simple so that there is a little tension between them, but we have tried to ensure it is as simple as possible for consumers and smaller businesses.

Just to make it clear, we are not making any money from this scheme. Indeed, we hope that tiny amounts of VAT will be paid to us, because that would mean that the overwhelming majority of people were returning their bottles. I hope we make as little money out of this as possible, which is perhaps unusual for me to say.

We will deal with the plastic packaging tax later in the Bill. The latest figure is just over £200 per tonne. As with the landfill tax, it will sit alongside this scheme and the whole point is to, first, cut down on plastic and secondly, make sure that less of it goes to landfill. I very much hope that people will see this as a holy trinity of environmental measures to try and achieve the ends that we are all so keen to achieve. Unless there are any further takers, I will sit down.