Industry reacts to Autumn Statement

There has been a mixed reaction from the industry to the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s much-anticipated Autumn statement.

Carl Arntzen, chief executive of Worcester Bosch, said: “Today’s announcement to double the Government’s energy efficiency investment with an extra £6bn from 2025 – and estimated saving of £450 per household on their bills as a result – is an investment the heating industry has been calling for. This is a small step in the right direction.

“We would expect the priority will be to use these funds to support the most vulnerable as well as small businesses, but with another expected round of tough cuts to come in April, we hope this is not just a half-hearted quick fix to a long-term problem.

“What we need now from BEIS is a comprehensive strategy from the new task force that extends on today’s plans. One that clearly shows thinking on how to better heatproof our houses and businesses, by embracing the development of new technologies and implementation of essential equipment upgrades.

“As an industry leader in the home heating sector, we realise the struggles millions of Brits will face paying bills. Today’s announcement is progress but we now need the Government to look long-term to how we can protect and serve homeowners long in the future with this new injection of funds and energy efficiency taskforce.”

Henk Van den Berg, strategic business manager, heating & renewables at Daikin UK said: “Though we welcome the Chancellor emphasising the importance of energy independence and energy efficiency, it was disappointing that he announced no further support to help people heat their homes and businesses with low-carbon technologies, such as heat pumps. By increasing the number of heat pumps installed in UK buildings, we would both reduce our reliance on imported fossil fuels and reduce energy bills in the long term – and it is an option that is on the table now.

“While extending the energy price guarantee beyond April will be welcome to many, there was no mention of shifting the Climate Change Levy’s focus away from electricity to gas, which would be another tool in driving consumers towards more sustainable, domestically produced energy and drastically shorten the payback time for innovative solutions like heat pumps.

“Taskforces are one thing, but we need action now to help people become more efficient and tackle climate change.”

David Lloyd, general manager of Connected Energy Performance at Johnson Controls UK&I said:  “Jeremy Hunt announced as part of the Autumn Budget a new national ambition to reduce energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030, a clear sign that we need to take more action, and soon.

“If we want to reduce energy consumption by 15% by 2030, businesses must consider implementing energy efficient plant/technology to drive real insights and introduce AI/ML driven control their energy efficiency. Heat pumps and lighting coupled with renewable energy and green supply will accelerate us past these commitments if we all act quickly to reduce energy intensity and secure our energy supply for the long term. Without smart tech, businesses can’t hope to start their journey to make the impactful changes they need to for themselves, the environment, and health of their teams. Legacy infrastructure, lack of interactive control and gas heating within buildings will be a huge barrier to reaching the government’s net zero goals by 2030.

“It relies on the government, business leaders, and individuals like us to make the buildings we inhabit much more efficient. With millions of us facing fresh energy pain and climate change pressures mounting, there’s never been a better incentive to take action and today’s budget highlights the need to take action now.”

Construction Products Association economics director Professor Noble Francis, said: “While the additional funding for energy efficiency from 2025 is welcome news, this funding is for further years after the current £6.6 billion finishes and clearly delivery in 2030 still signifies a longer-term goal for Government rather than a quick win. The detail of delivery for energy efficiency is crucial given previous flops in Government policy, and the CPA will closely follow further details as they emerge. Retrofitting our existing housing stock is crucial both for growth in the sector and to meet our net zero targets.

The commitment to infrastructure projects at both a local and national level will be welcome news to the industry, given some calls to reduce HS2 to Birmingham to help avoid tax increases. However, the announcement that funding for infrastructure would be “maintained in cash terms” in times of double-digit construction cost inflation means that we will see less activity down on the ground, particularly for financial constrained councils. Levelling Up through investment in infrastructure is a crucial way in which the construction industry can support wider economic growth, as well as its own, so it is vital that it is fully funded.

For housing, the stamp duty cut is likely to have only a marginal impact given the greater issue of interest rate rises and negative housing market sentiment. As a result, substantially more will be needed to stimulate both housebuilding over the coming years.”

The Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) chief executive, Tim Balcon said: “Construction employers are facing rising energy bills and materials costs and they need confidence in the future pipeline of work and support to train through challenging market conditions.

“We will do everything we can to support the construction industry so companies can continue to have the confidence to invest in skills.

“CITB has simplified the process for SMEs and sole traders to take on an apprentice and our New Entrant Employer Support team has placed 200 apprentices in the north of England alone since September. This scheme is being rolled out nationwide from January to provide employers the training support they need in this tough environment.

“We also look forward to working with the newly appointed Adviser on Skills Reform, Sir Michael Barber in his review to improve prospects for school leavers.”

Mike Foster, chief executive of the Energy and Utilities Alliance (EUA), said: “The Chancellor confirming the energy price cap will see a whopping increase up to £3,000 in April will inevitably worry millions of hard-pressed families. Our recent consumer survey found 78% of Brits support keeping the price cap on energy bills in place, so an increase that plunges millions into fuel poverty is not what any households wanted to see.

“This is particularly immoral while the Government’s own Boiler Upgrade Scheme, that is still in place, hands out £5,000 subsidies to the well-off to change their heating, while millions struggle to pay their bills. They have missed an open goal to solving some of the energy bills turmoil plaguing the British public. Redistributing these millions of pounds in pointless heat pump subsidies into insulation, efficiency measures, and bills support is really a no brainer.”

“With news of renewed investment in nuclear, this budget also reinforces our view that longer-term we need to move away from fossil gas and switch our network over to hydrogen. Not only will this help to reduce emissions – which the Chancellor pointed out was a priority in his speech – this level of energy independence would also free us from the global gas markets that Putin’s war has significantly impacted.”

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