Some time ago I posed the question as to whether ECO would come in under the dreaded Treasury ‘Levy Cap’ arrangement, and might find itself, according to the rules, having to scrape out a presence within the £ 11.8 billion allocated to items within the cap up to the end of the current spending round in 2015. Chris Huhne responded to my questioning about this with gnomic non-answers, and then announced the sums involved (£1.3 billion per year) with no further comment on levy caps. It will be a levy on energy companies but it hasn’t been capped.
So I was wrong then. Or so it seemed. Just as I was about to flagellate myself for my misguidedness, my eye fell upon page 137 of the Green Deal and ECO impact assessment (yes, I did read that far).
Here’s what it says.
‘The current energy company obligations (CERT and CESP) are classified as business regulations for statistical purposes. We understand the Office of National Statistics (ONS) – who are responsible for issues of classification – are now considering whether there is a case for reclassifying CERT as a levy and thus an imputed tax. If the ONS were to decide to reclassify CERT, this would be very likely to set a precedent for the eventual classification of ECO…’
Aaargh! It was out there all the time, waiting to grab us just as we entered the ‘business regulation’ waters again. The only positive thing one can say about this (other than I was not entirely wrong in my suppositions) is that it may well take ONS such a long time to decide how to classify CERT (three years ten months so far) that it (CERT that is, ONS is safe for the time being) may have been abolished by the time they actually get to sit down with their calculators, in which case it won’t actually be classified, and therefore a precedent won’t be set. Yeah, right…