PRESS RELEASE: Chancellor’s ‘mini-budget’ puts climate and the environment at risk
Responding to the Chancellor’s Statement, UKGBC’s Chief Executive, Julie Hirigoyen, said:
Today’s mini-budget announcement from Kwarteng prioritised economic growth at the expense of crucial climate and environmental targets. The reality is that these objectives should not necessarily be at loggerheads – and a green recovery would achieve much needed economic, social and environmental goals all at the same time.
We welcome the Chancellor’s intentions to improve the efficiency and reduce the complexity of our planning system. Yet, it is vital that any planning reforms don’t create a free-for-all approach to new development at the expense of our legally binding climate commitments and nature recovery goals.
Good regulation is welcome by industry, as it provides a level playing field for those who want to build high quality development. Without robust environmental safeguards in this deregulatory drive, developers and housebuilders are forced into a ‘race to the bottom’.
Devolving greater power and decision-making capabilities to the regions – who know their local needs, industry and markets the best – is welcome, but there was a notable absence of protective measures on the environment within the Government’s proposed Investment Zones. The only way to sustainably grow the economy and put Britain on a competitive footing is to support green growth and the net zero economy. This will not be possible for businesses to achieve voluntarily, in the absence of policy certainty or alignment.
Any new announcements on energy efficiency and reducing energy demand are largely lacking in the Chancellor’s statement today, despite the country being in the grip of an energy and cost of living crisis. Instead of accelerating growth by boosting green industries to upgrade the nation’s homes and businesses, there’s a mere fig leaf of coverage to help address the poor quality of our building stock in the short term. The long term structural and financial plan required to address energy efficiency and high fuel bills in the longer term remains worryingly absent.
Another missed opportunity was the government’s failure to align stamp duty to the energy performance of homes. This could have been a win-win for house buyers, energy security and the climate. Linking stamp duty cuts to home improvements such as fitting insulation and heat pumps would be a powerful incentive for homeowners to reduce their energy consumption and reduce our dependence on expensive oil and gas.
UKGBC is working with industry and local authorities who will be at the forefront of delivering the millions of home upgrades needed, but that can only happen at scale with targeted Government funding for struggling households and local authorities and a national strategy.
UKGBC has been developing a detailed policy proposal for Energy Saving Stamp Duty alongside the Energy Efficiency Infrastructure Group which now has support from across the buildings industry as well as major energy suppliers and high street banks. Download our briefing note here.