Government Risks Repeating Past Mistakes if Green Home Funds are Short-Lived

8th July 2020

The media are reporting that in today’s Summer Statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak will set out a £2bn grant scheme in England for projects aimed at making homes more energy efficient as part of a wider £3bn plan to cut emissions.

Environmental consultant Sam Taylor, an expert in energy and evaluation from Eunomia Research & Consulting Ltd has applauded the government’s new focus on energy efficiency but also calls on Whitehall to learn from past mistakes and make sure this funding is part of a long-term strategy.

The need for long-term thinking

Sam said: “It’s great to see the government is set to announce funding designed to make our housing stock more energy efficient, much of which desparatey needs updating in light of the current climate emergency. As someone who has worked on designing and evaluating UK energy policies for the last 15 years, I have however noticed one detail that could undermine the the objective of creating jobs in the long term. Many news reports claim funding will need to be spent in one financial year. Whilst this reflects the urgency of the situation, if it’s not associated with a long term commitment to promote energy efficiency measures then it risks creating a boom/bust cycle with little long term job prospects for those seeking to transform and build their careers.

Repeating past mistakes

“Unfortunately the sector is well versed in understanding the impacts of short term policy making. When the Feed in Tariff (FIT) system was announced in 2012 the West Midlands geared up to become a UK solar manufacturing hub but three years later when the government changed its policy and cut subsidies by 65%, 17,000 newly created jobs were then lost.

“It would also be good to understand if there will be any mechanisms to stop this funding being used for poor quality products and processes, investments in energy efficiency need to be made to have impact and last – otherwise they could end up counterproductive in terms of addressing environmental challenges.

Building back better – sustainably

“In the policy world at the moment there is a lot of talk about a ‘just transition’ to a more sustainable society but one of the most overlooked aspect of it is the principle of job security. I think for ‘green’ jobs to be attractive – especially ones that requires an investment from individuals (i.e. time to retrain/ train) then they have to be sustainable in the long term. The UK has set itself a target to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, funding like this can contribute, but only if it’s position alongside a long term commitment.”

Image courtesy of Jack Amick via flikr CC BY 2.0