The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, delivered his first Budget on 11 March 2020.
Mike Thornton, incoming CEO of the Energy Saving Trust, responded to the announcements in this Budget:
The Chancellor said in his Budget speech “We promised to deliver green growth and protect our environment. This Budget gets it done.” Well, not quite, or at least not quite yet. With the urgent need to fight Coronavirus, the longer term battle against climate change got somewhat pushed aside in today’s Budget. Instead we understand that a summer Comprehensive Spending Review statement will lay out infrastructure commitments including key steps towards the UK meeting its net zero carbon emissions target.
There was some green news in the budget today. Energy Saving Trust welcomes additional money for clean transport: £500m for electricity vehicle charging and the moves to make electric vehicles more affordable. The Renewable Heat Incentive, due to expire, was extended to 2022. As an organisation delivering extensive climate change programmes in Scotland, we noted too the £10m, “to help distilleries go green.”
But, for now, the big gap remains cutting carbon emissions from our housing stock. The UK Government has provided no direct, national funding support for home energy efficiency in England since 2013, despite the fact that two thirds of English homes are below adequate thermal efficiency. The Conservative Election manifesto committed to ‘Home Upgrade Grants’ as well as a ‘Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund’. It is key that those manifesto commitments are fully realised in the Summer announcement, alongside further action to cut the carbon from our homes.