These are incredibly difficult times for the country and while it is paramount to protect jobs and the economy, questions are also being asked about the way the country does business.
I do agree that as we recover from Covid-19, the Government needs to deliver an economy which is stronger, greener, more sustainable and more resilient. I was therefore pleased that, in June, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy announced a Green Recovery working group, one of five ‘recovery roundtables’ bringing together businesses, business representative groups and leading academics, to unleash Britain’s growth potential and help the economy recover from the pandemic. This group will explore how to capture the economic growth opportunities from the shift to net zero emissions.
I welcome that work is already underway, and the Chancellor announced a £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme in his Summer Statement. This scheme is live now and the grants enable eligible homeowners and landlords to apply for vouchers to make their homes more energy efficient by introducing measures such as wall insulation, double glazing or loft insulation. The grants cover at least two thirds of the cost and up to £5,000 or £10,000 for low-income households. It is estimated that this scheme could result in 650,000 homes being made more energy efficient and could save households up to £300 a year on bills.
The UK has played a world-leading role in tackling climate change and the transition to Clean Growth, with the UK being the first major economy to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. Since 1990, the UK has cut emissions by more than 40 per cent while growing the economy by more than two thirds, and we are a world-leader in offshore wind.
However, a balanced approach is needed and we should also acknowledge that motor vehicles are becoming cleaner and less-polluting and reducing carbon emissions should not be sought by unfairly penalising car use in the UK, as this would be unfair both to those living in rural areas and those who need to use personal transport.