Spring Budget 2024: An Energy-Efficiency Perspective - thumbnail image

Spring Budget 2024: An Energy-Efficiency Perspective

On 6 March, Chancellor Jeremy Hunt made his Spring Budget announcement. The big-ticket items included changes to National Insurance and the non-domicile tax status, but we were listening out for initiatives affecting our industry and our customers. In this blog post, we delve into the Chancellor’s statements on energy and their implications for consumers and the UK’s net-zero ambitions.

Nine million households left in the cold

Early on, as the Chancellor acknowledged some of our country’s challenges, he referred to the “energy shock caused by war in Europe”. This shock highlighted how over-reliant we are on oil and gas and how vulnerable we are to oscillating fuel prices. Yet, despite its early mention, the rest of the budget was light on new plans to address this issue or help everyday people reduce their energy bills.

Britain needs to make its residential buildings more energy efficient and – if it is truly to move away from fossil fuels – help people generate their own clean energy. This two-pronged approach is the most sensible and sustainable way to help people take control of their energy use, cut their expenditure, and move towards a greener future. But, sadly, the budget didn’t deliver much on these ambitions.

This is because much of what the Chancellor mentioned was old news – extensions to policies already in place. This is not to say they aren’t welcome. The Household Support Fund, which allows councils to help families via food banks, warm spaces, and food vouchers, was extended for six months, for example. But, as an initiative, it still doesn’t tackle the root causes of fuel poverty.

According to ONS data, around four in ten adults who pay energy bills say it is very or somewhat difficult to afford them, while recent analysis from Sir Michael Marmot’s Institute of Health Equity found that 9.6 million UK households are living in heat-leaking, poorly insulated homes. These things are not unrelated. We need to upgrade our country’s leaky housing stock as a matter of priority.

The Chancellor stated that the government is focused on building more housing and is “on track to deliver over one million homes in this parliament”. This is great if these houses are well insulated, but it doesn’t help those living in older, energy-inefficient buildings. The country needs investment to retrofit these homes with energy-saving measures and insulation.

A mixed bag for renewables

When it came to clean energy, this budget didn’t quite pack the punch that people were hoping for. On the one hand, the Chancellor stated that the government wants nuclear to provide up to a quarter of the UK’s electricity by 2050. He also announced an extra £120m for the Green Industries Growth Accelerator, an investment programme for the expansion of low carbon manufacturing supply chains. But much of this is earmarked for offshore wind and carbon capture utilisation and storage (CCUS).

When it came to solar power, there was very little in the Budget, despite it being one of the fastest-growing sectors. On the plus side, there was an extension to the energy profits levy (also known as the ‘windfall tax’ on oil and gas companies), which the Chancellor claimed would raise £1.5bn. It would be great to hear how this additional money might be used to help the UK realise its net zero ambitions and facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels.

While the Chancellor’s Budget announcement presented a few nods towards the UK’s energy sector, it falls short of the robust and visionary policies many had hoped for and that are needed to bolster the UK’s transition to green energy and provide relief for households grappling with their energy

bills. This includes a comprehensive retrofitting programme to insulate old, energy-inefficient houses, and support for those looking to make their homes cleaner and greener through solar power.

Looking to insulate your home? Interested in how solar energy can help you take back control of your energy bills? To find out what financial support you may be eligible for, get in touch with our team today.

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