Shipping Minister to consider Tonnage Tax change to help ratings
The UK Chamber had a fruitful meeting with the Shipping Minister, Stephen Hammond MP, on 27 November. The primary purpose of the meeting was to seek the Minister’s support for a renewed proposal to amend the rules of tonnage tax to allow trainee ratings to count towards a company’s core training commitment.
This had last been discussed in 2008 when it was suggested that three ratings could be recruited and trained to Able Seafarer level in lieu of one officer. The UK Chamber’s President is particularly keen that this change should be made in order to encourage the recruitment and training of new UK ratings, not least because he began his seagoing career as a rating.
The Minister asked that the UK Chamber work alongside the Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB) and his officials in the Department for Transport (DfT) to update the evidence to support the ratio, taking account of the changes that have taken place in respect of ratings’ training in the intervening period. These include the discontinuation of the use of Vocational Qualifications (VQs) in training programmes, the adoption by IMO of competencies for deck and engine-room Able Seafarers and the availability of apprenticeship funding for college courses for ratings. Once this work had been completed, the Minister stated he would be willing to discuss with HM Treasury a possible rule change.
The UK Chamber also took the opportunity to raise with the Minister its concerns over possible changes to the National Insurance Contribution (NIC) treatment of employers of mariners aboard certain vessels operating on the UK Continental Shelf and the effects on UK shipping of the Bribery Act 2010. In each case the Minister understood the concerns and asked to be provided with more details.