Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently made his Summer Statement that outlined plans to help the UK economy recover, including a proposed £3 billion green jobs campaign. It will be designed to save money, boost employment, and cut carbon emissions, particularly to combat the after-effects of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The statement garnered mixed responses from industry insiders. Several stakeholders and green experts notice that much focus was placed on home insulation, more than any other aspect of sustainability.
The Chancellor confirmed a £3 billion worth of green financing is to be provided, which includes £2 billion for the green homes grant. From September of this year, landlords and homeowners can apply for the voucher that enables them to improve energy efficiency on houses and buildings. It will also drive more sustainable work for businesses in the local areas.
The green homes vouchers included in the grants are said to be covering two-thirds or more of the total costs, or up to £5,000 for every house to help make improvement in energy efficiency. For low-income households, as much as £10,000 could be allocated to cover home improvement costs towards energy efficiency.
About £1 billion of the budget will be poured into enhancing the energy efficiency of hospitals, council buildings, schools, and other public sector buildings. There will also be £50 million in funding to decarbonise social housing in the UK.
The said measures are designed to increase the energy efficiency of some 650,000 homes, which could help save £300 per year for every family. Carbon emissions could be cut by half per megaton yearly, and as well as support about 140,000 green jobs.
Chancellor Sunak expressed full commitment to the government’s ambitions, which could improve the entire country overall.
However, measures for renewable energy noticeably lacked in the Chancellor’s statement. There are no new boosts for renewables, while electric vehicles were also ignored in this year’s plan.
The Chancellor was also mum on broadband build-out, which would have created more jobs and support work-from-home models. Nature restoration also received only a little cut of the budget, although landscape refurbishment and tree-planting were promised.
Committee on Climate Change (CCC) CEO Christ Stark lauds the plan as a positive stimulus, given that it involves big money that needs to be spent quickly and efficiently. He believes that job creation has to be a priority, and energy efficiency is an excellent avenue to start.
The CCC has previously stated that around a million homes built from 1008 have to undergo refurbishment to meet new standards. Additionally, an estimated 15 million homes or more need better insulation. The net-zero target also includes low-carbon heating for all households by 2050.
PwC UK Head of Energy and Utilities Steve Jennings stated that any stimulus package to be provided by the government are welcome as the sector tries to establish the roadmap towards net-zero carbon by 2050. He highlighted the role of such a package to usher economic recovery, saying it will quickly generate jobs for the people.
In a recent report, PwC revealed that 60% of consumers take great interest in their energy use, particularly the environmental impact and effect on energy bills.
E.ON CEO Michael Lewis agreed with the Chancellor’s views, stating that upgrading buildings and homes in the UK can create an economic stimulus, along with lower energy bills and better health and well-being outcomes.
Association for Decentralised Energy Head of Policy Caroline Bragg, said that energy businesses are delighted to begin the national building renovation programme. This plan will secure green-collar jobs for over 40,000 people within the next two years.
University of Sussex Business School lecturer Marie Claire Brisbois welcomed the initial step but commented that the announced funding falls short of the total figures needed to upgrade the least energy-efficient European home. She said that this piecemeal approach is contrary to the required system-wide transformation.
Comparethemarket Head of Energy Peter Earl pointed out that the 650,000 homes to be upgraded on the scheme only represents 2% of the total UK households, which means that further measures need to be developed to cover a larger population.
Scottish Carbon Capture & Storage (CCUS) even posted a tweet expressing disappointment that only home insulation was given the spotlight in the statement. It cited the lack of long-term plans for the net-zero targets that are set to be accomplished by 2050.