‘Cash bridge’ remains at heart of MPA calls on Chancellor for more business support now and into recovery
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer having published a policy paper setting out the impact of the Coronavirus on the sector proposing some key policy steps to help get the industry through the crisis and be ready to support the recovery. It also warns of an anticipated credit squeeze as the economy re-opens, a major risk for those that survive the current shutdown.
Around 80-90% of production capacity has been shut down in recent weeks with a small strategic network of sites supplying essential projects including health, road and rail maintenance, agriculture, utilities including water and other key activities. All businesses are in survival mode, holding onto cash where possible to keep afloat until the recovery starts and builds back to more economic levels of activity. It will take many months for the pre-crisis cash flow pipelines to settle again with concerns for greater credit risk likely to linger for the rest of 2020 and possibly into next year.
With cash retention being the number one aim after the safety of employees and customers, the paper calls for several tax reliefs to help businesses hold on to cash. These include a further deferral of VAT, deferral of employers National Insurance, Corporation Tax and Business Rates. It also lists some further charges and costs that should be able to be deferred. Greater flexibility and tapering of furloughing will soon need to be evaluated to avoid a ‘cliff edge’ at the end of June that may trigger avoidable redundancies.
The paper also calls for “Time to Pay” arrangements with HMRC for the Aggregates Levy to be more readily available. This tax is falling due now as businesses face a very challenging cash environment and making deferment more easily available would be invaluable.
Nigel Jackson, Chief Executive of MPA said:
“Our members are in survival mode and have been for some weeks, but they are starting to look ahead. The rollout of furloughing has been very impressive, averting many redundancies, and the VAT deferral is also very welcome. Extending furloughing beyond June coupled with more flexibility will be needed to avoid avoidable loss of jobs and skills. We have concerns that HMRC are showing limited flexibility over Time to Pay arrangements for the Aggregates Levy, unlike Treasury’s approach to many other costs facing businesses, and call for HMRC to align and become more supportive. Surviving the recovery, when bills will come in faster than payment of invoices for some months, will be another challenge for industry and we need Government to provide direct support and to ensure that planned infrastructure goes ahead as soon as possible.”
About the Mineral Products Association:
The Mineral Products Association (MPA) is the trade association for the aggregates, asphalt, cement, concrete, dimension stone, lime, mortar and silica sand industries. With the affiliation of British Precast, the British Association of Reinforcement (BAR), Eurobitume, MPA Northern Ireland, MPA Scotland and the British Calcium Carbonate Federation, it has a growing membership of 530 companies and is the sectoral voice for mineral products. MPA membership is made up of the vast majority of independent SME quarrying companies throughout the UK, as well as the 9 major international and global companies. It covers 100% of UK cement production, 90% of GB aggregates production, 95% of asphalt and over 70% of ready-mixed concrete and precast concrete production. In 2016, the industry supplied £18 billion worth of materials and services to the Economy. It is also the largest supplier to the construction industry, which had annual output valued at £169 billion in 2018. Industry production represents the largest materials flow in the UK economy and is also one of the largest manufacturing sectors. For more information visit: www.mineralproducts.org
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