Saturday, 12 November 2011

The Fossil Fuel Levy.


Don't stop reading, it's not that boring, well it is, its quite dull but listen, this is one of those things while boring; you need to know.

The Fossil Fuel Levy (FFL) has been getting bandied around a fair bit recently, although  not in the main stream media for obvious reasons. It's probably not that important in and of itself but it is for what its come to represent in the continuing situation for the UK. I thought I'd be a dear and explain what it actually is and why you should atleast know something about it.

So what is it? Its a levy introduced in Scotland in 1998 (it had been on the go in England & Wales since 1990) on fossil fuel, thats why its called the fossil fuel levy. Ok, that was a cheap shot, the idea was to introduce a tax payable by consumers (you and me) and suppliers of energy where that energy came from burning coal, oil or gas. The proceeds went towards what they snappily called the Non-fossil Fuel Obligation, the NFFO in turn was a contentious peace of legislation that required a portion of fossil fuel income to be paid to Nuclear Producers (then renewables later on) by way of a subsidy.

So far so tedious.

The percentage paid by consumers and suppliers in Scotland over the six years it operated (Feb 1996 to Apr 2002) exceeded 1% only once in April 2001, otherwise it hovered around the 0.7% mark, not exactly going to break the bank for individuals or energy suppliers. However, over the years it was collected some £203 million accrued.

Nodded off yet?

Here's the important bit. Although that money was collected in Scotland, it languished in a London bank account for years, over those years the Scottish Government has petitioned for it to be returned for use in funding research into invaluable renewable energy production, something which is accepted as being a major future contributor to the Scottish economy (Scotland has 25% of Europes renewable potential in wind and wave generation... Aparently, some one with a big forehead said it so I tend to believe it.)

In between times, the Westminster Parliament lumped the 203 million in with general UK wide funding obligations and has been telling the Scottish Government that they couldn't have it, well they could but our Block Grant (the fixed sum we get to run devolved stuff, about 30 odd billions) would be reduced by the same amount... So they would give it back with one hand but take it away again with the other.

I'm not suggesting it belongs to Scotland only because it was raised here, that wouldn't be a logical argument under the current arrangements, I'm saying it was our fair share of a subsidy fund we paid into along with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, unless you think its fair we pay for Nuclear Power Stations to provide power for people living on the South Coast of England as opposed to the South Coast of Fife given that the cash came from the people in Fife, among other places North of the border?

Imagine the tax man took and extra £500 off you in last months pay packet, you notice and ask for it back but they say no for ten years or so, ignoring the interest accrued. Imagine then, the tax turns round after years of you hassling them and said: "You know that £500 we took off you? We're giving you it back, only its now £250. Oh- and we expect you to be grateful." This is what's just happened, Westminster is giving £100 odd million back to Scotland, the rest is being added to the UK wide fund, of which we'll see a tiny (tiny) percentage.

Apparently Scotland benefits from being in Union with Westminster (this has nothing to do with our relationship with English-folk who are shafted by the UK government almost as often & enthusiastically as we in Scotland are.) Its called 'The Union Dividend'.

It seems to me, if you invest your time and effort in an endeavour and get less in return that doesn't represent a dividend, I've just looked up some antonyms for the word dividend; the first one that comes up is 'loss', its quite apt because I'm at a loss to understand why some people still think the current arrangement we have with Westminster is a sustainable one. The FFL is a tiny example of the difference between what Scotland pays into the Union and what we get back, (which is a lot less in case you haven't been paying attention.)

If you managed this far and are wondering how you'll ever get the time back, you're probably a Tory. I looked up some synonyms for the word Tory, many of them are unrepeatable and new even to me.

That is all.

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Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?