The chancellor's summer statement - the industry responds
"Projects need a clear definition as to ‘what good looks like’ if they are to help fulfil a truly green recovery"
Taken in the round, the reaction of the industry to the Chancellor’s proposals has been broadly positive, but with some feeling that greater clarity and long-term policy is needed to give a clear framework for the future. The Ground Source Heat Pump Association recognised the significance of the acknowledgement of the importance of the ‘Green Economy’, but went on to add:
“We ask Government to provide the sector with a clear and consistent long term strategic policy framework that will enable our members, the wider supply chain and, crucially, commercial customers and homeowners, to invest with confidence. This is a golden opportunity to contribute to the two biggest challenges of our time, economic recovery and Climate Change, and is one that we cannot afford to waste.”
Similarly, Max Halliwell, Communication Manager for Residential Heating at Mitsubishi Electric said
“The announcement from the Chancellor today signals that the government has heard and understands the role that renewable heating, power and green measures will have in helping build Britain back up post the Covid-19 crisis. The measures outlined by the Chancellor go some way to addressing this. In addition to these measures, the installation of renewable heating technologies, such as heat pumps, up and down the country will not only help homeowners reduce their own carbon emissions from home heating, but provide valuable jobs creation as plumbers, installers, manufacturers and apprentices upskill and reskill in a technology that is going to be vital for future homes…
“However it’s important to note that the ambition needs to grow. We need to rapidly move on to a wider expansion of this for the many, many off-grid households dependent on oil, LPG and other properties using aging gas systems elsewhere, if we are to tackle the 40% of UK carbon emissions generated by home heating.”
This need for clarity was echoed by Elad Eisenstein, Cities and Regeneration Director at Ramboll, who said “The proposed funding to make public buildings and social housing greener is undoubtedly a positive step; but it is critical that all infrastructure projects get a clear definition as to ‘what good looks like’ if they are to help fulfil a truly green recovery.”
It was funding for residential projects and retrofitting that got the most comments, with SSE Chief Executive Alistair Phillips-Davies saying:
“Funding for green homes and energy efficiency is a welcome boost but more action will be needed in the National Infrastructure Strategy and the Autumn Budget to build a long-lasting green recovery”,
and Jan Crosby, Head of Infrastructure, Building and Construction at KPMG adding:
“Energy efficiency retrofitting has long been needed and the funding of £5,000 per household to kick start decarbonising existing housing stock is welcome. It should also have the double impact of providing funding to create the volume conditions needed to help with the maturing and perhaps lowering of price of energy efficiency technologies, while facilitating jobs for SMEs in the sector. All this comes alongside the welcome impact on the carbon footprint of existing UK housing, of course.”
UK Green Building Council chief executive Julie Hirigoyen combined the need for clarity and attention to the measures for housing by saying: “The chancellor has recognised the huge potential of energy efficiency to create jobs, and the money announced today for upgrading buildings is a much needed first step.
“In respect of homes, we urgently need more detail on how the green homes grant scheme will be implemented. Done well, it has the potential to kickstart a retrofit revolution across the country, but, done badly, this could cause more harm than good to people’s homes and to the industry. It's crucial to avoid the mistakes of previous retrofit schemes by ensuring that all measures and installers under the scheme are properly accredited and deliver real improvements. The allocation of £50m to social housing is also a welcome announcement, although frankly just a drop in the ocean compared with the Conservative manifesto commitment of a £3.8bn social housing decarbonisation fund – far more of which should be brought forward immediately.
"Furthermore, given that today’s announcement contained a range of financial incentives and tax cuts, it missed the opportunity of tying these in more directly with the green buildings agenda. UKGBC has previously called for a VAT cut on refurbishments and variable stamp duty rates as incentives to drive up consumer appetite for more efficient homes, which would stimulate demand for these cash grants.
“Finally, we urgently need confirmation that today’s announcements are part of a clear, long-term and ambitious plan to bring all our 29 million homes and circa two million commercial buildings up to decent standards of efficiency. Such a plan would include target dates for minimum energy efficiency standards across all property types, and a range of policy and fiscal measures to ensure these can be met. This is not only vital to reaching net zero, but also for ensuring that industry, and the supply chain in particular, can gear up and invest in both the skills and innovations required.”