With the summer Budget announced on July 8, there has been a mixed reaction from the industry as some aspects have been welcomed, while others, including energy efficiency, have left the sector feeling ignored.
The government is refusing to address a major source of carbon emissions, according to the Federation of Master Builders (FMB). In response to the Budget Statement, the FMB has called on the government to make our existing homes a national infrastructure investment priority.
Brian Berry, chief executive, said: “The construction industry is at a loss as to why the government is ignoring the need to improve our current housing stock. By refusing to acknowledge the importance of these improvements, the government is exacerbating problems such as high household fuel bills, carbon emissions and the national housing shortage.
“First and foremost, the government has a legally binding target to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2050 and our existing homes account for 27% of our current emissions. Simple logic suggests that if they do not address 27% of the issue, that target will not be met. Climate change is an issue that concerns the majority of the population, but without tackling the energy inefficiency of our housing stock, the government is not taking cutting carbon emissions seriously. This is rather surprising when you consider that not long ago, the Prime Minister wanted his Conservative-led coalition to be the ‘greenest government ever’.
“What’s more, the issue goes to the heart of household finances. By improving energy efficiency in our homes, the government will reduce fuel bills and put more money back in the pocket of the consumer. The benefits of taking action in this area are clear and the government is aware of this but seems determined to sit on its hands. Making our existing homes a national infrastructure priority, re-directing carbon taxes, putting an energy efficiency financing framework in place and reducing VAT on housing renovation and repair work from 20% to five per cent are all effective and implementable measures. We urge the government to wise up on energy efficiency – we want to work with ministers to find a sustainable solution.”
Cindy Pooler, marketing manager for Conergy UK, solar supplier, said: “There is little to smile about with the latest budget announcement, revealing yet more tax-breaks for oil and gas and more taxes for renewables. These measures undermine more than a decade of work that has gone into educating the public and the business community on the very real need to invest in alternative energy sources.
“It is imperative that the issue of sustainability remains on the government agenda in order to ensure that we don’t lose sight of the wider issues and Conergy will continue to work with partners within the industry to ensure renewable energy remains a priority.”
BEAMA’s independent campaign, Ask for Underfloor, stated there was a lack of positive news for the renewable and green economy in the statement.
Colin Timmins, of BEAMA Underfloor, said: “Unfortunately, George Osborne has neglected the green and renewable energy economy in his first budget since the general election. Talk of commitment to improving energy efficiency was relatively low key in the Conservative’s manifesto and it’s disappointing that the government has failed to acknowledge the importance of energy efficient homes in our economy once again.
“The Tory manifesto supported a transition to a low carbon economy in a cost effective way. Yet, this budget gives no indication that the government intends to take a serious look at how we can deliver efficient, affordable and comfortable homes across the UK through the refurbishment of heating systems in existing properties, as well as the creation of new and affordable energy efficient housing. Low energy homes need insulation; but they also need well-controlled, low temperature heating systems – such as underfloor heating (UFH).
“The lack of focus to tackle this issue is concerning; it does little to encourage the housing and construction sector to prioritise installing renewable energy sources in the new homes over the next five years. We hoped the chancellor would use this budget to provide an impetus to ensure there will be progress on the energy efficient refurbishment of existing homes, as well as new homes, in the next five years.
“Connecting UFH systems to low temperature heat sources such as heat pumps has an extremely positive effect on the carbon footprint of a home. Ask for Underfloor will continue to push for a greener economy and will work to advise the government and consumers about the benefits or running an energy efficient home. In fact, it’s no surprise that UFH is increasing in popularity – it’s widely seen as one of the most efficient ways of heating the home and can help homeowners reduce their energy bills.”
The Construction Products Association (CPA) has welcomed the summer Budget statement, which backs British manufacturers and industry.
Dr Diana Montgomery, chief executive of the association, said: “We were pleased by plans – that were in line with our recommendations – of the permanent setting of the annual investment allowance of £200,000 from January 2016. This will offer industry confidence in the long-term to invest in new innovative plant and machinery equipment, which will impact positively on productivity.
“We are encouraged by the announcement that government will be bold in the delivery of infrastructure especially in terms of roads. The chancellor’s commitment to the £15 billion road spending plan and his recognition of a long-term road investment programme offers certainty to industry.
“Finally, we are pleased to hear that the main rate of Corporation Tax which had already been cut from 28% in 2010 to 20%, will now fall further, from 20% to 19% in 2017, and then to 18% in 2020.
“All of this was good news for the UK economy and industry specifically. However, what was starkly missing was any indication of policies to incentivise energy efficiency of existing housing. We continue to press the government to recognise the tremendous potential for improving the housing and commercial building stock and improve the cost of living for home owners.”