Spring Budget prioritises election over planet

The chancellor fails to even mention the environment as he concentrates on putting a few pounds in the electorates’ pockets prior to the next election. 

While an increase in the Air Passenger Duty for business class travellers is welcome, drivers of combustion engined cars will find themselves £50 a year better off thanks to the five pence cut in fuel duty being extended.

As James Wallace of River Action pointed out, The Chancellor ‘did not mention nature, the environment nor action to tackle the climate crisis, not event once.’

As the Chancellor’s speech progressed, interested parties from a variety of fields began to make their feelings known.

Will Walker, UK Policy Lead at Ashden said: ‘Apart from some welcome extensions to existing government schemes, such as a relatively small funding boost to the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, this was another barren budget for net zero.’

‘Unfortunately, what we’ve seen over the last decade from Government is dither, delay and division on net zero. This has undermined business and investor confidence, weakened supply chains and added nearly £2.5bn to UK energy bills.

‘A case in point is the home heat workforce and heat pump industry. Several net zero retreats in recent years, including the latest U-turn this week with the scrapping of the Clean Heat Market Mechanisms – sometimes given the misnomer of ‘the boiler tax’ – have meant that the industry really don’t know where they are any more. They have had their fingers burned and don’t trust government schemes, undermining the progress of a growth sector – yet again this budget neglects to provide a properly funded retrofit plan to support action that could really make a difference to the economy and help households trying to keep their costs down and homes warm.’

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy, Mike Childs, said: ‘Yet another Budget that largely ignores the dangers of climate breakdown, and yet another missed opportunity to properly invest in building a strong, clean and prosperous future.

‘New research published only last week revealed that the UK’s net zero economy grew by 9% in 2023, while the rest of the economy continues to stagnate.

‘The UK’s failure to match the US and EU, who are leading the charge with billions of pounds of green investment, will cost this country jobs and future prosperity.

‘We need a Chancellor for the future, not one stuck in the past. Money spent on renewables, home insulation and better public transport would not only boost the economy; it would also protect health, slash energy bills and help the UK play its part in the fight against the growing climate crisis.’

Commenting on the  decision to extend energy windfall tax by one year, Mike added: ‘The Chancellor is right to continue the energy windfall tax – but he should have extended it for more than a year and closed the ridiculous loopholes that allow companies to offset their tax by drilling for more costly and polluting fossil fuels.’

Campaign group Possible said: ‘It was a small win to hear him announce a modest increase in the amount of tax paid on the business seats on flights. But this will leave some of the most polluting planes completely untouched.
Only about a quarter of private jets pay the highest rate of air passenger duty, and some don’t pay any tax at all. Plus, most frequent flying is done for leisure not business, so we need to do much more to get aviation on track for our climate goals.’

UK100 Chief Executive, Christopher Hammond said: ‘As we go into spring, we mustn’t forget the rising numbers of people in fuel poverty and the millions who were unable to keep warm over the winter. Despite the issue getting little attention in the Spring Budget, everyone deserves a warm, affordable to run home, but for far too many households the reality is anything but.

‘The Government spent £40 billion subsidising everyone’s energy bills, but under the current fiscal rules, it is unlikely to be able to afford so again. National politicians can’t kick fuel poverty into the long grass in favour of short-term electioneering without storing up long-term problems.”

‘Rather than waiting until we’re again in crisis, the Spring Budget should have been a chance to accelerate retrofit projects that local leaders can unlock as the fastest, most cost-effective route to delivering warm homes for all.’



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