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Government must scale up green recovery ambitions

9 July 2020: ICAEW has welcomed the £3bn green jobs plan announced in the government’s summer statement as a good starting point, but urged the government to scale up its green ambitions to tackle the challenges of the next decade.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak used part of the government’s summer statement to outline how he plans to “create green jobs to ensure a green recovery that holds “concern for our environment at its heart”.

A central plank of his plan is 'green homes grant'. From September, homeowners and landlords will be able to apply for vouchers to make homes more energy efficient, with the Chancellor claiming it will create 140,000 jobs. Vouchers worth £5,000 (or up to £10,000 for low-income families) will be made available to retrofit homes with insulation, helping to cut carbon emissions.

A further £1bn will be available to make public buildings, including schools and hospitals, across England greener and help the country meet its Net Zero ambition by 2050.

Richard Spencer, ICAEW Technical Thought Leadership, welcomed the investment as a “good starting point”, but called for the government’s ambition to be a lot bigger. 

“Germany has pledged £36bn and France £13.5bn to a green recovery,” said Spencer. “If £3bn is the opening shot then that’s fine, but it is a fraction of what’s needed in the face of the challenges ahead.

“We would argue ‘green and fair’ needs to inform the whole package so we do not retreat back into the world that produced this crisis and the greater unfolding perfect storm of climate change, massive loss of biodiversity (nature) and rapidly increasing inequality,” continued Spencer.

“The Conservative manifesto made a commitment to £9.2bn for energy efficiency. Much has changed since the election, and this is only a summer statement, but it is the first statement on the recovery and against the backdrop of the prime minister and others making a lot about “building back better”.”