Britain’s manufacturers have condemned the government’s climate change policy as “chaotic, overcrowded and complicated” and are calling on George Osborne to use his emergency budget to introduce an economy-wide carbon tax.

The manufacturers’ organisation EEF suggests a new single levy based on energy usage to replace the existing mix of climate measures would simplify the system, allow businesses to budget more easily and encourage them to move towards cleaner energy.

The existing climate change levy has been criticised by environmental campaigners for not pushing firms far enough to be greener, while companies themselves say it is not spread fairly and does not provide incentives to cut pollution.

The EEF report said the 10-year-old climate change levy, introduced under Tony Blair, has failed to target the right places and is a burden.

The group criticises the levy as being used primarily as a revenue raiser rather than as a tool to change the way businesses use energy and power companies produce it.

The EEF head of climate and environment policy, Gareth Stace, defended manufacturers’ track record as having already made “substantial reductions in emissions. However, there is … evidence that they are struggling under the weight of legislation at European and national level, which has produced a chaotic, over-crowded and complex landscape. We now need a fresh approach. This will help a vibrant manufacturing sector to make a sustainable contribution to reducing global emissions of greenhouse gases and continue investing and creating jobs in the UK,” he said.

The government will face further criticism on its climate change policy from the Work Foundation today. The group says confusion over regulation and a proliferation of agencies and bureaucracy is putting the creation of jobs in the low-carbon economy at risk.

It will call on the government to create a central point of contact on all matters concerning the low-carbon economy to cut through the confusion and help boost industry thereby creating demand for highly skilled jobs in the future.

Charles Levy, a researcher in the group’s knowledge economy programme, said: “The lack of business and investor confidence is a major obstacle … [and] a key cause of this is a lack of clarity and commitment from the government. It is still failing to offer confident leadership.”

His report, published today, echoes the EEF’s call for greater transparency to incentivise businesses.”A hugely complex web of monetary flows, regulatory activities and confusing lines of accountability has developed among dozens of public sector organisations that decide how to spend the cash,” says Charles Levy, a researcher in the group’s knowledge economy programme.