News: Maritime UK responds to 2021 Budget

On Wednesday (3 March) the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced his budget. Key headlines for the maritime sector included the designation of eight Freeports in England, the creation of a UK Investment Bank and further funding for the development of port-side infrastructure to support the offshore wind supply chain. Other relevant announcements covered increased support for employers taking on apprentices, increased capital allowances to encourage private investment, and new small grants for leisure and tourism businesses.

Maritime UK set out its key priorities for the maritime sector ahead of the budget and Maritime UK Chair Sarah Kenny wrote for City A.M. on the importance of decarbonising the maritime sector.

Maritime UK chair Sarah Kenny said:

“It’s an important step to see the locations of freeports announced, but the Government must also address coastal deprivation in the many areas that won’t be freeports.

“Maritime UK and the ports sector have set out measures to help boost trade and investment in all our regions, including through planning reform, and other levers such as enhanced enterprise zone status, capital allowances and research and development tax credits. These can happen outside the freeports programme.

“We therefore call on government to work with us to spread a number of the low cost elements of the freeports package more widely across coastal communities all around the UK as soon as possible to accelerate levelling-up and COVID-19 recovery.”

On the announced plans for an infrastructure bank:

“The UK’s new infrastructure bank and its focus on green growth is promising. But with COP26 around the corner, we need to see both private and public finance to kick-start the massive transition to net zero in sectors the government has recognised as hard to decarbonise.

“Maritime needs £1bn to fund the shovel ready green infrastructure projects and propulsion research and development needed to decarbonise. 

“Without this investment, not only will the country miss its environmental targets, but it will also miss on an historic economic opportunity to rejuvenate our shipbuilding industry and become a world leader in green, clean maritime. 

“And this would benefit our neglected coastal communities the most, putting them at the centre of the green industrial revolution with 75,000 new jobs.” 

On red diesel:

“We are disappointed that ports will see steep increases in the fuel duties they are subject to. Ports are already working hard on slashing emissions. Hiking fuel duties for sectors with few current alternatives don’t help the environment and damage the sector’s ability to invest for the future.”