It has certainly been an interesting period since I started working for Community Energy Wales in April this year. It appears that every month seems to provide a new challenge for Community Energy schemes in the UK and Wales and this month we have seen yet another, this time impacting the ability of Community Energy Groups to raise finance through Community Share offers.
The Treasury has announced that from the 30th of November all community energy projects will be excluded from the Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). They have also stated that community energy schemes will be excluded from Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR), reversing the governments’ previous statement in March 2015.
This means that share offers will need to be closed and shares issues by the 30th of November 2015 for investors to qualify for the tax relief. After this date no investors will be eligible for any tax relief on investment in community energy projects.
The announcement was made by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury in Parliament during the Report Stage of the Finance Bill who stated regulations would be laid to this effect. The Report stage debate can be found here (column 51 and 52) and the legislation and explanatory notes here.
This is a major blow to the Community Energy Sector in Wales as well as across the rest of the UK. Community Energy Wales is working with partners across the UK in raising this issue. Community Energy England, Community Energy Scotland and Community Energy Wales have sent a letter to the Chancellor George Osbourne asking him to re-consider the latest changes.
As part of CEW’s involvement with the Community Energy contact group with the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) we have jointly asked for a meeting with Amber Rudd MP to discuss the impacts of these changes as well as other recent changes that are impacting on the community energy sector.
If you have been impacted by these latest changes then please let us know so that we can make sure the impacts on you are fully recognised.
We are aware that a number of groups are likely to launch share offers prior to the deadline at the end of the November to try and avoid the impacts of these changes. Please let us know when you launch your share offers and we will share this information widely through our network.
We need to raise the profile of Community Energy and put pressure on the government to ensure that they realise there is a cost to them for undermining the community energy sector.
There are a number of opportunities to do this:
- Write to your MP – or visit one of their local surgeries
- Contact your local press to highlight the impact these changes are having on your organisations.Share these stories with us to help raise the profile.
- Join the Keep Fits campaign and share with friends/colleagues to show people the impact these decisions are making.
- There will be a weekend of action on climate change on the 28th and 29th of November.Marches are taking place in Cardiff, London and Paris.
- Any other ideas you have please share with us and we would like to support itIn addition to this Community Energy Wales have also created a working group that is looking at alternative models to ensure that there is a strong future for Community Energy in Wales. It is more important than ever for the sector to work together to find solutions to the challenges that we are faced with.
Business Development Manager
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