Small businesses see tax and red tape as barriers to environmentalism
A recent environmental panel survey has been carried out whereby businesses where asked for their thoughts on the progress made in obtaining a green economy. The main findings include:
· As small as 10% of businesses have not addressed their rising utility costs whereas just under half (41%) have refined their processes with 28% having actually reduced their energy usage as a result.
· 28% of businesses have taken the opportunity of more energy efficient equipment.
· As many as 77% think even within the current climate it is possible to be green but 52% still say that green taxes inhibit their ability to invest in reducing their energy usage.
· 75% have said that the current legislation is aimed at larger businesses and does not recognise the practicalities and challenges of smaller businesses.
It was widely commented that businesses felt that they needed to establish making themselves more profitable in light of the current challenges before they could address the issue of being more environmentally friendly.
Chief Executive Phil Orford who lead the survey through Forum said:
“Small businesses see the benefits of green practices and technologies to the environment and, given rising energy costs, to their bottom lines. They are clearly taking steps towards introducing them but the lack of adequate support from the Government and utilities providers is frustrating.”
"We need better information about the choice of support and equipment that is available, and incentives to help business owners embrace environmental processes and trade more sustainably locally, regionally and internationally, rather than ever more taxation. Small businesses should be at the forefront of thinking about the green agenda."
It is thought a huge uncertainty exists within the utility industry with 92% of businesses not feeling protected from the “bad practices” of the providers. A suggestion felt by many to overcome this would be to have an independent single Government body responsible for utility regulation and funding schemes. 38% respondents have acted by switching providers to reduce or maintain existing cost levels but 58% have said that they receive no support in how to reduce bills from their energy suppliers. A total of 73% of respondents focus on ‘common sense solutions' to reducing waste but 31% only begin to assess how to reduce energy costs when they receive a bill or contract renewal form, while 16% use meters to identify poorly functioning equipment or inefficient processes.
As a result of the Survey the Forum has set out its advice to the Government:
· Firstly think of small businesses when introducing environmental policies. Because of smaller economies of scale the regulations need to be clear and simple and proportionate to the size of each business.
· Recognise that the purpose is green. Provide environmental support systems that are readily available to all size of business.
· Provide clearer and understandable information on choices available including practical and financial effects of different methods.
· Give businesses the backing to have the confidence to invest in low carbon infrastructure e.g. tax relief and soft loans.