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Following communications with HMRC earlier in the year related to the application of VAT on energy savings materials, the Plumbing & Heating Contractors’ Alliance -. the overarching ody for plumbing and heating businesses in the UK – advises that HMRC has now issued revisions to its guidance on VAT and energy saving materials.

In May 2011, APHC and SNIPEF issued warnings to the industry to make sure they applied the appropriate VAT rate when installing heating systems. This followed increasing industry confusion about when and how the lower rate could be applied, with installers receiving dramatically different messages depending whose advice they took.

HMRC has now produced further guidance about the application of VAT  on energy saving materials. Notice 708/6 – November 2011 seeks toclarify a number of issues relating to VAT, with the main point of interest for plumbing and heating engineers being the guidelines in section 2.3, which give more specific advice on the VAT rate to be applied to energy saving materials installed with other works.

John Thompson, Chief Executive, APHC said: “We are pleased that our dialogue with HMRC has been productive. These updated guidelines mirror the advice HMRC provided in a letter to us in response to our enquiries. At the time we received the letter in the summer, we advised members and the wider industry to think very carefully when applying VAT to certain types of work and we would reiterate this advice. Now that the guidance is laid out in black and white, I’d urge all installers to take the time to read it.”

Robert Burgon, Chief Executive, of SNIPEF, added: “The clearer guidance from HMRC is welcomed as many installers have been confused by the information which has been circulating about this issue”

Both trade bodies do, however, agree that  a policy change is needed to allow the lower rate of VAT on all home improvement work as a stimulus to the plumbing and heating sector which has been hit hard in the recession. A policy change in this area would also address the complexities of VAT application on energy saving materials.

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Elderly targeted by ‘energy saving’ box scam

Elderly people are being duped into buying a device billed as an “energy-saving box”, which has been found to be dangerous, according to an article published by BBC News.

So far, Trading Standards has stated that they have had more than 200 complaints.

Claiming to be energy suppliers, dodgy sales people are putting out calls offering the device, which plugs in to the mains, stating that it cuts the use of electricity by around 40 per cent.

These calls are thought to be made from overseas.

However, officials have stated that the device – priced at £99 – is dangerous and could potentially cause both fire and electrocution.

Chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, Ron Gainsford commented on the device.

He said: “We have had a number of the items tested which not only failed to satisfy electrical safety standards but do not deliver any tangible energy savings.”

Sue Jones of Westminster trading standards also spoke about the issue, stating: “Often consumers do not realise that they have been defrauded until they receive the dodgy looking device with instructions in broken English and the accompanying invoice which names an unknown supplier and often gives an American address.”

Latest gas and electricity news brought to you by UK Power – the energy price comparison site.

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Huhne claims government policies will mean net savings on energy bills from 2013

Energy secretary Chris Huhne claimed today that by 2020 the average household bill will be 7 per cent or £94 lower than if the Government were not pursuing policies to achieve energy savings and incentivise the shift from fossil fuels to alternatives.

Huhne insisted that the net saving would start to kick in from around 2013.

This assessment came as the government published its annual energy statement to Parliament and further detailed proposals for its flagship Green Deal initiative.

The government said that by the end of 2011 household electricity prices will have increased by around 16 per cent and household gas prices by 25 per cent since the start of the year, due mostly to global fossil fuel prices.

The Coalition has insisted that Government policies currently account for around 7 per cent of an average household energy bill and have contributed very little to recent price increases. 


By Richard Lloyd, executive director, Which?,
It s difficult to see how hard-pressed homeowners will have confidence in how the Green Deal might work for them if the suggested savings are initially based on averages rather than on their personal energy use.

The Golden Rule was supposed to reassure people that Green Deal repayments would not exceed the savings made on energy bills. But if this is based on average figures then it could be meaningless for many.

The Government estimates that average household energy bills will be 7% lower than they would have been by 2020 because of new energy and climate polices. But this is based on the big assumption that schemes like Green Deal will appeal to consumers. If take-up is lower than expected, energy bills will be pushed up even further

By Friends of the Earth Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman
Our energy bills are rocketing because the Big Six power companies are keeping us hooked on expensive imported gas.
Government figures show that building costly and dirty fossil fuel power stations will simply pump up bills while investing in clean energy will create new jobs and ease the burden on cash-strapped consumers.
Our politicians must face the facts the Green Deal proposals must be strengthened if they are to tackle energy waste.
And Ministers must get tough on the energy giants and put the UK on the path to a clean and affordable energy future.

By Ray Cope
If we had not wasted our gas supplies on power generation we would not be hit so hard by the cost of imported gas.Its too late now to do much about it but it would probably pay to invest in synthetic natural gas.I would like to see the figures as I am sure it would be viable. In the meantime I am at a loss to understand why the government has not told Ofgem to impose a price formula of RPI-2.It was taken away when ofgem said there was adequate competition. That was clearly a huge error of judgement.

By Rugbygirlsdad
While I agree with Richard about the green deal, there’s a lot of over-simplification here of a very complex issue. My understanding is that energy companies overall profit levels are no higher than supermarkets and that we have the lowest energy prices in Europe. Also wind and solar are intermittent generation and cannot solve the enrgy issue by themselves – if the winf doesn’t blow the lights go out.

By Ray Cope
It looks like at last all the major suppliers have signed up to a simplification of tariffs which will hopefully improve competition and perhaps bring down prices a little. It does beg the question why it has taken so long for this to happen. There is a regulator with a budget of 50m a year and consumer focus with about 14m a year. What are we paying these organisations for if they cannot bring pressure to bear and sort out these issues more quickly.

By RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery 
It s common sense that if you save fuel, you save money. Our existing power plants are reliant on increasingly expensive fossil fuels, and with more wind farms on the grid, we can use the free energy of the weather when it s available, slashing our demand for costly imported gas.

The figures in the Government s Annual Energy Statement demonstrate this simple truth that green measures, far from being expensive, can actually save us money. The 18p we re paying for wind power now means our bills will be lower in the future and we ll have tens of thousands of new green-collar jobs, thanks to that investment


Source: www.utilityweek.co.uk

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Scott Reid, an apprentice plumber from Moray College, has won the Scottish Regional SkillPlumb Competition, held at Dundee College in June.

The competition, which is organised by SNIPEF, brings together apprentices from the Technical Colleges and Training Centres in Scotland that teach the Plumbing SVQ Level 3 Qualification. Scott was one of 17 competitors who took part in the two-day competition.

The SkillPlumb Competition has been devised to incorporate everyday plumbing tasks that an apprentice is likely to encounter during training. The competition consists of two workshop exercises, a copper pipework exercise and a lead bossing and forming exercise. In addition, there is a multiple choice exam paper on aspects of plumbing and heating work.

At the prize giving ceremony held at Dundee College, SNIPEF President George Whyte presented Scott with his prizes and Jim MacKinnon, the Senior Plumbing Lecturer from Moray College, with the overall winner’s Shield. As well as winning the overall award, Scott also won both the best copper pipework and best lead awards.

Scott comments: “I really enjoyed the two day competition in Dundee and was surprised but of course very pleased to have won the event.”

Scott and second place winner Jason Cameron will now participate in the UK National SkillPlumb Competition, which will be held at the Interbuild Exhibition in October. The overall winner of the UK Competition will represent the UK in the next WorldSkills Competition, due to be held in Calgary in September 2009.

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Environment & Energy focus boosts Renew results



Renew saw revenue climb by 23 per cent in the six months to 30 September as its shift to engineering services paid off.


Announcing its preliminary results for the half-year, the engineering and construction services firm said sales were up to £356.7 million, compared with £290.4m in the same period last year.

Pre-tax profit before exceptional items and amortisation rose 76 per cent, from £4.6m to £8.1m.

The group said its 2009 strategy to achieve at least 50 per cent of revenue from engineering services has been hit a year early, after revenue in this sector rose 39 per cent to £176.7m, with operating profit up 78 per cent to £7.4m.

Those results include seven months of trading at Amco, the engineering firm Renew acquired in February for £19.8m.

Renew chairman Roy Harrison said: “The results demonstrate that the group can deliver sustainable, profitable growth from our key markets of energy, environmental and infrastructure.

“Our strong forward order book provides us with confidence that this will continue in 2012.”

Specialist building revenue increased to £178.9m (2010: £163.1m) as the firm focused on London and the Home Counties.

The group order book was down from £304m to £285m, which it said was “entirely due to our planned lower levels of activity in specialist building”.

The engineering services order book was £179m (2010: £82m), an increase of 118 per cent.

The firm said the development of engineering services business also improved group operating margin and created a platform of sustainable revenue generated from more than 50 framework agreements with major clients, most of which operate in regulated markets.

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