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Politicians have returned to Westminster after the November recess and have wasted no time getting back to business during the short period before the Christmas break.
News of particular relevance to your industry this week:
Our Welsh members will be particularly pleased with the announcement from Government that a number of financial powers will be devolved to the Welsh Assembly, including control of business rates (article two).
Allegations have been made against David Cameron for wanting to get rid of “green crap” from the Government’s agenda (article three).
The private sector must do more to help strong, smaller British businesses, according to a new report published by Dods and sponsored by Santander UK (article four).
In European news, the European Parliament has officially voted on and passed the 2014 EU Budget, which will come into effect in the New Year (article five).
The Network of European Union (EU) Contact Points for Tackling Cross-Border Vehicle Crime (CARPOL) has met this week on the issue of tackling European car crime (article six).
The European Parliament has, this week, approved the regulation setting up Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme which looks at developing research and tackling ‘societal challenges’ relating to financial and transport infrastructure (article seven).
For more policy updates follow @RMIRebecca
2. Welsh Assembly set for further devolution
Details of the new and unprecedented package of financial powers to help Wales compete in the global race have been published by the government this week. The powers, which could see the Welsh government in control of £3 billion of tax revenue, include control of business rates, the ability to create new taxes and some borrowing powers.
An outline of the plan to boost growth in Wales was initially announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister earlier this month and on Monday the UK government published full details in its response to the Silk Commission’s recommendations on financial devolution.
The new financial powers announced are:
• fully devolving non-domestic business rates raised in Wales, so that the Welsh government budget benefits more directly from growth in Wales
• ability to create new taxes with the UK government’s agreement
• tools to manage these new tax powers:
• creation of a cash reserve that the Welsh government can add to when revenues are high, and utilise when revenues are below forecast;
• limited current borrowing powers if there is insufficient funding in the cash reserve to deal with revenue shortfalls
This follows on from devolved financial powers announced by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, earlier this month:
• borrowing powers for Welsh Ministers
• landfill Tax and Stamp Duty Land Tax in Wales devolved to ensure the Welsh government has an independent funding stream to pay back the money it borrows
• Assembly will be able to hold a referendum so that the people of Wales can decide whether some of their income tax should be devolved;
• prior to the tax raising powers coming on-stream, the Welsh government will have early access to existing limited borrowing powers to use for M4 improvements
3. Allegations made against Cameron on Green agenda
Senior ministers have both defended and hit back at reports this week that the Prime Minister wants to get rid of “green crap” from the Government’s agenda.
The controversy arose after reports in the Sun and the Daily Mail that the Prime Minister had told aides to “get rid of the green crap” from the Coalition’s programme.
Earlier David Cameron distanced himself from suggestions that he wants to scrap environmental policies.
Asked on Thursday if he still believed in a green agenda, Mr Cameron said: “Of course”.
“We’ve got the world’s first green investment bank, we’ve got great support for our green technology industries, we’ve got our first nuclear power stations since 1995, this is a government investing in important green projects,” he told Sky News.
Earlier a Downing Street spokesman dismissed the Sun report, stating: “We do not recognise that at all.”
However, the Government is expected to announce that it will shift the burden of some green levies off energy bills and onto general taxation in the upcoming Autumn Statement.
4. Private sector action needed to help UK SMEs
The private sector must do more to help strong, smaller British businesses to develop or accelerate their plans for growth if the UK is to achieve a sustainable economic recovery, according to a new report published by Dods and sponsored by Santander UK.
The report, Growth Britain: Unlocking the potential of our SMEs, highlights that the banks and other private sector institutions need to support small businesses in five key areas – encouraging exports; access to the appropriate kind of finance; the guidance and support available in the market; access to the right skills; and the tax and regulatory environment. This follows a five-month research project which brought together the views of SMEs from across the country with those of policymakers from the three main national parties.
Among the key recommendations in the report are for banks to do more to raise awareness of, and increase confidence in, the sources of alternative finance that exist in the market; and for the private sector to do more to help SMEs reach new export markets.
See full report here: http://www.dodsmonitoring.com/downloads/Misc_Files/Growth_Britain_Report-2013.pdf
5. 2014 EU Budget officially adopted
The Lithuanian Presidency welcomed European Parliament’s vote and final adoption of the 2014 EU budget, following the political agreement reached between the Council and the European Parliament in the ECOFIN (Budget) last week.
The 2014 EU budget amounts to EUR 142.6 billion in commitments and EUR 135.5 billion in payments. Almost half of the budget, EUR 64 billion, will be made available to initiatives for smart and inclusive growth. In this area, spending on research, innovation and education will increase markedly while EUR 47.5 billion is committed to cohesion policy.
Deputy Minister Rimkūnas commented:
“I am glad that the 2014 EU budget focuses on the financing of key policies which are of particular importance both for the Council and the European Parliament, such as innovation, growth and jobs, fight against youth unemployment, but also asylum, migration and the protection of external borders of the Union. It is also important that the 2014 EU budget leaves sufficient margins to cope with unforeseen situations in the course of the next year.”
By adoption of the 2014 EU budget Lithuanian Presidency has implemented one of the key priorities in the economic and financial area.
Source: Council of the European Union
6. CARPOL tackles European car crime
The Network of European Union (EU) Contact Points for Tackling Cross-Border Vehicle Crime (CARPOL), established in 2004, is seeking to solve the aspects of international vehicle thefts through cooperation of law enforcement institutions and vehicle registration institutions.
Fight against these crimes is important for owners of vehicles, officers, insurers and other persons due to the fact that these crimes are often accompanied not only by serious violence of different nature, but also by illegal activity such as trafficking in drugs or firearms. For these reasons, the issues related to enhancing CARPOL cooperation with European police office (Europol), as well as promoting cooperation between private and public sector is going to be discussed in the course of the meeting. Experts from different countries will present their experience of participating in joint police operations and other activities related to the detection of stolen vehicles and vehicle thefts.
Source: Council of the European Union
7. European Parliament approves international research and innovation programme
The European Parliament today approved the regulation setting up Horizon 2020, the EU’s research and innovation programme for 2014-2020, as well as its accompanying rules for participation and the future legislation governing the European Institute of Innovation and EU Member States must now give a final seal of approval ahead of the first calls for proposals under Horizon 2020, currently set for 11 December.
Horizon 2020 is built around three pillars:
1) Support for “Excellent Science
2) Support for “Industrial Leadership” – including grants for small and medium-sized enterprises and indirect finance for companies through the European Investment Bank and other financial intermediaries;
3) Support for research to tackle “societal challenges”. During negotiations between the European Parliament and Council it was decided to support research towards meeting seven broad challenges, including ensuring secure, clean and efficient energy and smart, green and integrated transport.
Source: European Commission
8. Westminster Diary
The following is of note at Westminster during the week 25 – 29 November 2103;
Monday 25 November
House of Commons Transport Select Committee Inquiry; Better Roads
Tuesday 26 November
Westminster Hall Debate: Transport Infrastructure in North Wales
Wednesday 27 November
Oral Questions: Prime Minister.
House of Commons Debate: Business Rates.
Thursday 28 November
Oral Questions; Energy
House of Lords Debate: Increasing the take-up of apprenticeships among young people
Friday 29 November
House of Commons: Private Members Bills
House of Lords not sitting.