FM MagazineOpinion

What the UK’s Spring Budget Needs

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Paul Wrighton, Regional Director for Sustainable Infrastructure at Johnson Controls UK&I, tells FM Magazine what he’d like to see from the Chancellor in the Spring Budget on Wednesday.

We need a renewed commitment to decarbonisation, across all sectors – especially for both domestic and SMEs, as well as looking at ways to encourage more training and education in green skilled jobs. One example of where there could be a renewed focus is domestic heat pump uptake. The current boiler upgrade scheme has a budget of £150m each year for three years and aims to issue 30,000 vouchers annually. But in the first eight months of operation, only 9,888 grants were awarded. 

What needs to be tackled now to support businesses:

The rising cost of energy and difficult economic conditions are often at odds, especially for SMEs. Greater awareness needs to be built around the financial and operational benefits. We need complexity around net zero to be demystified and clear recommendations to businesses on where to focus and what technologies can support. There’s a great opportunity for attractive financial mechanisms to support green investment, especially among larger organisations.

We need the government to support businesses in getting the technical assistance they need directly or via industry partnerships so they can identify opportunities to reduce emissions and develop a plan to transition to net zero. This could include providing access to experts in energy efficiency, renewable energy, or other relevant fields. It’s also important for the government to facilitate knowledge sharing and best practices by creating networks or platforms for businesses to share information and ideas about how to reduce emissions.

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Net Zero efforts cannot dwindle

Amid the current economic situation, the government must encourage the establishment of more green partnerships between industry and educational institutions. These partnerships can help identify the skills and knowledge needed in the workforce, and ensure that education and training programs are aligned with industry needs. 

By continuing to raise public awareness about the benefits of green jobs and the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy, the government can help to create demand for green jobs and encourage more people to pursue careers in this field. Therefore, we need incentives to strengthen the focus on apprenticeship and internship programs within the green sector. Here, we can encourage practical, on-the-job training and work experience for people who are interested in pursuing green careers

Paul Wrighton

Paul Wrighton is Regional Director for Sustainable Infrastructure at Johnson Controls UK&I.

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