Responding to the Summer Budget
The Chancellor's Summer Statement indicates the government has heard the calls of the renewables industry. Max Halliwell asks: What next?
The Summer Statement from the Chancellor earlier this month signalled that the government has heard the calls of the renewable industry and, perhaps more importantly, understands the role that renewables and green measures will have in helping build Britain back up following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The measures outlined go some way to addressing both economic recovery and carbon reduction, which is crucial if the country is to meet its ambitious net zero targets for 2050. As we recover from the pandemic, we must focus on the invaluable role that renewable technologies can and will play in enabling the country to achieve the legally binding carbon reduction targets which have been set.
The Green Homes Grant
We are particularly pleased to see the announcement of the Green Homes Grant, dedicating £2bn to support homeowners to install a range of energy efficient and low carbon heating technologies.
The voucher scheme is a very welcome adrenaline shot for the sustainable heating market. As it stands, the domestic heating sector accounts for a third of all UK emissions – so incentivising the uptake of low carbon heating options is an important step on the path to cutting carbon emissions.
It’s also great news for homeowners who make the switch and for the industry, as they will not only benefit from cost savings on fuel, but the grant also helps cover towards the upfront costs of buying a heat pump. In turn, this will deliver the green credentials that many are increasingly looking for in their homes. In addition, the government have confirmed that further support under the renewable heat incentive scheme will still be available to those who have benefited from the green homes grant.
We’re also pleased that £500m will be delivered through local authorities to reduce fuel poverty and support the installation of low carbon heating. Those in lower income households can receive double the grant limit, up to £10,000 for their property, helping to move away from a reliance on costly fossil-fuel heating systems, especially in the winter which can lead to many households experiencing fuel poverty.
Not only will this grant increase the energy efficiency of the UKs housing stock, we hope it will also help safeguard jobs amongst existing building professions by creating demand for work, particularly amongst smaller tradespeople.
Having to install an air source heat pump as one of the primary requirements for grant acceptance subsequently means that the heat pump industry in particular is set to grow, delivering more opportunities for installers across the country. We hope this momentum continues as adoption of renewable technologies like heat pumps continues to grow and create even more jobs.
With support for training and apprenticeships also being announced by the Chancellor, we hope to see more young people incentivised to enter the building, construction and manufacturing industries and take on these ‘green collar’ roles to drive forward a new, more sustainable approach.
Support for SMEs
We are pleased to see the government’s commitment to training apprentices as it will help generate a pipeline of talent, and creation of a Job Retention Bonus should help to persevere jobs as the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme winds down this autumn.
However, we would also like to see more specific commitments from the Chancellor around support for small and medium sized businesses, where many installer, consultant and contractor companies fall. Many of these companies have struggled significantly during the pandemic, and will need ongoing support in order to see a sustained recovery in the months to come.
More is still needed
The announcements made by the Chancellor are a welcome start to stimulating a green recovery and creating jobs. However, it is important to put them into context – the amount pledged to support housing is only enough to upgrade 2% of homes in the UK, for example.
Going forward, we are keen to see more direction and hopefully further investment made as part of the National Infrastructure Strategy in Autumn, and we hope there will be more assurances for businesses as existing supportive schemes come to an end. For now, we are keen to see how the ‘green’ recovery develops in the coming months, and what benefits the Green Homes Grant can bring.
Max Halliwell is Communications Manager at Mitsubishi Electric