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The Autumn Budget: What it means for district heating

Posted by Ian Allan

Last week, the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Budget to the House of Commons. It was highly anticipated and expected to provide more significant structural changes than the first budget delivered in spring 2017; but what were the changes that will affect district heating and the housing sector?

Distict heating budget changes

Housing

In the same week that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, announced her ambition to continue with the strategy to ‘fix the broken housing market’; The Chancellor, Philip Hammond, declared overall government support for housing of £44 billion to aid the ambition of building 300,000 new homes a year and make this more achievable. This figure includes £1.2 billion for the Government to build more homes and £2.7 billion for infrastructure that will support housing.

Universal credit

A highly controversial topic that has seen major party leaders and charities criticising the Chancellor’s plan to replace six benefits (income support, income-based job seeker’s allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, housing benefit, child tax credit and working tax credit) by merging them into one monthly payment. The change in the payment structure will come into force in January through to April 2018. This move has caused nervousness amongst social housing landlords. This is because the housing element will be paid directly to the claimant, with it becoming their responsibility to pay their rent themselves and not automatically. Some landlords fear this will lead to increased debt levels due to unpaid bills.

£220 million towards the clean air fund

In a previous blog earlier this year, we reported that air pollution in London exceeded levels in Beijing. So what is the Government doing about it? £220 million has been allocated to help local authorities with putting in place actions to reduce air pollution in their constituencies. This could be spent through reducing public transport fares to investing and promoting energy efficient technologies – such as district heating in their cities and densely populated areas.

What was missing from the budget?

Sadly, the budget didn’t mention specific energy efficiency commitments for buildings. The Association of Decentralised Energy (ADE)commented saying “supporting greater industrial efficiency is crucial to ensuring the UK’s competitiveness. We will continue to make the case to Government to follow through on the ambitions set out in the Clean Growth Strategy for an industrial energy efficiency scheme and hope to see further clarity on resource in the next few months.” And we at Switch2 definitely agree – we can see climate change is having an incredible impact to the planet, and it isn’t slowing down. Therefore every country needs to do its bit to protect it, and one answer in the UK is looking at how our heating infrastructure can be more efficient and cleaner. Let’s face it, we are all very aware that we waste enough heat into the atmosphere to fulfil our total demand.  

Key takeaways

  • £44 billion allocated to support new housing across the UK
  • Universal credit will be rolled out across the UK from January – April 2018
  • £220 million awarded to improving the air quality in our towns and cities
  • More investment and Government backing is needed to improve energy efficiency and to protect our planet

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Ian Allan

Head of R&D at Switch2

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