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The £284m tax sweetener

By Greg Pitcher

A £284 million boost for businesses trying to divert waste from landfill sites has been welcomed although firms have insisted the fund must be strictly managed.

Environment Secretary Margaret Beckett announced the Business Resource Efficiency and Waste programme on Monday.

The fund will hand out the money made by the Government as Landfill Tax increases, with £43m available in 2005/6, £95m in 2006/7 and £146m in 2007/8.

To encourage waste minimisation, Landfill Tax will rise from £15 to £18 per tonne for 2005/6, and by at least £3 per tonne every year until it reaches £35.

CBI director of business environment Michael Roberts said: "Given that this revenue is coming from business, it is absolutely right that it is being spent to help business save money by cutting its production of waste and being more energy efficient.

"A number of the schemes that will benefit from the funding are already used by companies, but they expect the money to be spent as efficiently as possible.

"It is important that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) puts in place robust systems to make sure that as much as possible of the money taken from companies in tax is used to directly benefit them."

Envirowise will be the key beneficiary in April, receiving £12m towards its consultancy service and waste minimisation clubs.

The Department of Trade and Industry also received £10m to support research and development through its Technology Fund.

The Waste and Resources Action Programme received £4m, and the remaining £17m was shared by local and smaller initiatives.

Beckett said: "Every business, big and small, can benefit from this package of initiatives which has been designed to move towards more sustainable production practices.

"If businesses use these services they should be able to recoup the increasing costs of landfill by reducing the amount of waste they send to landfill as well as driving down energy use all of which should help them become more competitive through cash savings and increasing resource efficiency."

DEFRA made the funding decisions in conjunction with business representatives and said the performance of each scheme would affect its future funding.

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