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Sun October 25 2020

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Saint-Gobain response to the comprehensive spending review

22 Oct 10 Speaking on behalf of Saint-Gobain in the UK & Ireland, Peter Hindle MBE, General Delegate, strongly supported the need to address the country’s unprecedented budget deficit. 

Speaking on behalf of Saint-Gobain in the UK & Ireland, Peter Hindle MBE, General Delegate, strongly supported the need to address the country’s unprecedented budget deficit.  

“While we welcome the emphasis placed on investment in green energy and infrastructure in the Spending Review, we believe that more work is needed to ensure that initial plans can be successfully implemented to ensure a viable and sustainable long term solution.

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“According to construction and manufacturing industry statistics the recovery is underway and, while the cuts announced may not be as deep as originally anticipated, the full impact of these remains to be seen. The comprehensive spending review has helped to highlight key areas of focus for the government over the coming years but more work is now needed to determine how effective these steps will be in securing a sustainable future for industries in the UK.  The announcement of funding for the Green Investment Bank is a positive step in the right direction, although the initial sum stands less than expected at £1-billion and highlights the need for further consultation to determine how this will be sustained going forward.
“In my view, it is vital that the Government seizes the opportunity presented to generate economic recovery through green retrofit, dealing with the challenge to move society towards low carbon usage, reduced energy usage and tackle fuel poverty while also stimulating the economy and creating jobs.
“The news that the government will not cut the feed in tariff is extremely positive, as is the announcement that £860-million funding has been set aside for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which will be introduced from 2011-12 and is expected to drive a more-than-tenfold increase of renewable heat over the coming decade. However, once again, more work is needed regarding the mechanics involved to ensure a practical and achievable solution which generates enough demand. One aspect of this is that the RHI needs to be structured in such a way as to avoid upward pressure on UK and timber product prices.   
“In terms of improving the efficiency of existing households, the decisions to continue the Warm Front scheme and fulfill the Decent Homes standard are welcome moves.  However, with cuts of over 50 per cent to the Warm Front programme needing to be made, there is still uncertainty regarding how the UK will address fuel poverty and meet carbon emissions targets.  Reforms to the social housing system mean that a programme to deliver up to 150,000 new homes has been proposed and, while this is a positive aspiration, it remains to be seen whether the extra revenue generated will be used by housing associations to fulfill this aspiration.
“Other positives to come out of the Comprehensive Spending Review include the provision of £15.8-billion for school building projects, which means that the majority of work put on hold earlier this year can now be revived, the announcement of increased year on year investment in hospitals and maintained investment in the transport infrastructure, including cross rail.  However, a clear picture regarding the outcome of this investment has yet to emerge, and it is essential that the private sector works closely with the government to ensure that a clear and effective framework is developed to ensure the best use of funding to secure long-term growth.
“Finally, we were surprised and disappointed with the announcement about the withdrawal of the cashback incentives from the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme. Essentially this means that it has become another tax instead of an important driver to help businesses to improve their energy efficiency. This will have a negative impact on our business and we would very much encourage a rethink in this key area to look at how business can be supported more effectively to help the country meet its carbon reduction targets.”

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