Harvest Government Windfalls

Operators upgrading to more sustainable equipment are being showered with Government cash in the form of tax breaks and interest free loans


Caterers who want to buy new energy efficient equipment but are watching the pennies in the recession can heave a sigh of relief because help is at hand: there is an abundance of Government incentives out there that can turn the dream into reality. It might be difficult to get a mortgage on a house at the moment but since last month the Government, via the Carbon Trust, is handing out unsecured interest free loans of between £3,000 and £400,000 to operators who upgrade to greener equipment. The Carbon Trust interest free loans give caterers the opportunity to modernise and reduce overheads and the organisation reckons the loan repayments will be comfortably covered by estimated energy savings.


“The maximum loan limit available to borrow has now been doubled to £400,000. And while the loans used to be available only to SMEs, they’re now also available to larger companies that don’t fall under the Carbon Reduction Commitment – this typically equates to those that spend less than £500,000 a year on electricity,” says the Carbon Trust.


The loans can be repaid over a period of up to four years and as the scheme is designed for energy savings to cover repayments, the loan will effectively pay for itself.


Taking advantage of the loan scheme has paid dividends for the proprietors of The Pigs gastro pub in Edgefield, Norfolk. Locals Richard Hughes, Iain Wilson and Gary Long who bought the pub in 2006 wanted to replace the kitchen’s old, gas guzzling equipment with more efficient kit. They approached Falcon Foodservice who suggested they worked with them to apply for a Carbon Trust loan. That move is set to save the pub thousands of pounds in energy costs for years to come.


General manager Gary Long says: “We have worked with Falcon and Williams many times in the past and they told us about the Carbon Trust loan scheme, which we hadn’t heard about before. Once we had given them the go ahead they helped with the administration of the application, carried out all the energy saving calculations and handled all the correspondence with the Carbon Trust.”


Three weeks later the application was approved and the new equipment was installed, converting the inefficient kitchen into an energy friendly one. New equipment included a Falcon Infinity fryer and Dominator grill and a Williams walk-in fridge and Onyx preparation counter. With limited kitchen space, the bespoke walk in fridge was specially made to be located outside but with an internal door from the kitchen for easy access.


“Without the Carbon Trust loan it would have been unrealistic to have replaced all the old equipment so we’re grateful to Falcon and Williams for introducing us to the idea. It has benefited everyone all round – the chefs are happier, food quality is better for our customers, our energy bills are significantly lower and of course we’ve cut our carbon emissions too,” says Long. And there is more good news for those buying refrigeration products because they can get

tax breaks through the Enhanced Capital Allowances Scheme.


This scheme allows companies to claim an enhanced allowance for the full cost of the purchase of new refrigeration equipment on the approved the Energy Technology Product List (ETPL) in the year of purchase. The list of equipment that qualifies under the scheme, which is updated monthly, is available at www.eca. gov.uk/etl/find


The ECA scheme is a key part of the Government’s programme to manage climate change. It provides businesses with enhanced tax relief for investments in equipment that meets published energy- saving criteria.


ECAs offer businesses the opportunity to claim 100 per cent first-year capital allowances on their spending on qualifying plant and machinery.


Businesses can write off the whole of the capital cost of their investment against their taxable profits of the period during which they make the investment. The general rate of capital allowances for spending is 20 per cent a year on the reducing balance basis. This can deliver a helpful cash flow boost and a shortened payback period.


The scheme is open to all businesses that pay UK corporation or income tax, regardless of size, sector or location.


However, only expenditure on new energy- saving equipment can qualify for ECAs. They can also include certain costs arising as a direct result of the installation of qualifying plant and machinery such as transport of the equipment to the site, and some direct installation costs.


However, the Catering for a Sustainable Future Group warns that at the moment: “The current ECA list is not representative of the breadth of equipment used in kitchens. More product categories need to be added to the Energy Technology List as currently only commercial refrigeration is included for this sector’s range of equipment.”


However, for operators looking outside the kitchen at the whole business it does cover a host of heating, water and vehicular categories.