Industry reacts to latest Budget statement

Chancellor Rishi Sunak

Heating and plumbing organisations and brands have been reacting to this week’s Spring Budget announcement by the chancellor.

Extra funding for apprentices, environmental policies, the housing market and support for self-employment were all key parts of the Rishi Sunak’s latest planning.

He announced that £126m of funding will be made available to create 40,000 new traineeships, along with cash incentives for firms to take on apprentices.

Mark Wilkins, technologies and training director at Vaillant, said: “The government’s proposed investment in creating new traineeships and further incentives for employers to hire apprentices is to be welcomed, especially at a time when there is an urgent need to address the skills gap in industries such as ours.

“However, if the government is to achieve its ambition to drive a ‘green industrial revolution’ in this country, it is vital that these apprenticeships are geared towards delivering the types of sustainable technologies that will lower the UK’s carbon emissions and help it to reach net zero.

“Decarbonising heat in buildings is one of the key areas that needs further support if we are to achieve the 2050 net zero target. But at the moment, there are simply not enough qualified engineers on the ground to deliver low carbon heating at the scale required. That’s why more needs to be done to incentivise the current and next generation of installers to undertake the necessary training.”

Adrian Ramsay, CEO of the MCS Charitable Foundation, agreed there was a lack of focus around decarbonisation.

He said: “This is an incredibly disappointing budget on the environment. The government has talked about the need for a green economic recovery, but this budget lacks any concerted focus on the climate emergency.

“At MCS, we want to see a package put in place to make UK homes greener. This should include scrapping of VAT on renewable energy and a well-run, long-term incentive scheme that will make renewable energy accessible to all and give installers confidence to grow their businesses.

“With the right policies we can drive new jobs in green industries while reducing carbon emissions and creating cosy homes across the country.”

The chancellor also confirmed its self-employment income support scheme will be extended to include a fourth and fifth grant, a move welcomed by Kevin Wellman, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Plumbing & Heating Engineering (CIPHE).

He said: “The chancellor’s budget has business in mind and the continuation of the furlough scheme indicates that minimising unemployment remains critical. We are encouraged to see further support for the self-employed and SMEs, especially for the 600,000 newly self-employed who missed out on support over the last 12-months.”