Green groups have expressed their dismay at the absence of any new stimulus on energy efficiency in Wednesday’s Autumn Statement.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne announced new Stamp Duty reforms as part of the package of announcements. Campaigners have previously suggested the tax could be used to incentivise energy efficiency improvements.
“For years we’ve been told by Treasury that Stamp Duty cannot possibly be touched. But today’s changes blow a hole in that theory,” said John Alker, director of policy and communications, UK Green Building Council. “This represents the mother of all missed opportunities, to link Stamp Duty payments to the energy performance of the property – incentivising householders to take action, and firmly establishing energy efficiency within the house buying and selling market,” he said.
“For many households the changes will offer a welcome upfront financial saving when buying a house – but it could so easily have also helped to tackle long-term household energy bills. Osborne could so easily have killed two birds with one stone,” added Alker.
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Ben Stafford, head of public affairs, WWF-UK, said that more attention on the shift to a low carbon economy could have offered greater benefit to UK plc.
“Given George Osborne’s priority on infrastructure investment, he should have spoken about the massive opportunity represented by investing in energy efficiency.
“The most recent research into the potential of infrastructure investment in energy efficiency shows that: for every £1 invested, there is a £3.20 return through increased GDP; there would be increased employment of 108,000 net jobs per year between 2020 and 2030; energy bills would be cut by £8.61 billion per year – or an average of £400 for every home.”
The Autumn Statement did include the announcement of £100 million more for energy efficiency programmes and support for a new nuclear power plant. There was also dismay at new tax breaks for the North Sea oil and gas sector designed to help it cope with falling prices..