Energy industry reacts to Autumn Statement

Chancellor’s Autumn Statement faces criticism about geographical-based bill relief and perceived shortcomings in addressing fuel poverty

The energy industry has responded with a mix of optimism and concern to Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement, which unveiled 110 measures aimed at bolstering the UK economy.

The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) welcomed several initiatives, including full expensing for capital investment, acceptance of the Winser Review’s recommendations to improve grid connections and the Green Industries Growth Accelerator.

REA’s Director of Policy Frank Gordon said: “The Chancellor’s Autumn Statement revealed some welcome and long needed measures to speed up grid connectivity, while conformation of permeant tax allowances for businesses investing in plant and machinery, should also help incentivise companies to deploy renewable and clean technologies to help them decarbonise.”

Concerns were raised by Peter Chalkley, Director at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, who suggested that the government might need to take more substantial actions to reassure investors in the coming months.

Mr Chalkley noted: Things over the past few months have looked, to say the least, a little confused.”

Fuel poverty charity National Energy Action (NEA) criticised the Autumn Statement for not directly addressing energy bills, leaving millions in cold and unsafe homes.

New polling by NEA with YouGov reveals that 26% of UK adults – equivalent to 11 million people – say they have struggled to afford to pay their energy bills over the last three months.

Adam Scorer, Chief Executive of fuel poverty charity NEA, said: “The gaps in this Autumn Statement are devastating, especially for the poorest households. While increasing benefits in line with inflation is welcome, it does nothing to directly reduce energy bills or to help millions of low-income households not on benefits.

“An ‘average household’ is now paying £800 more per year to heat and power their homes since the start of the energy crisis.”

The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) expressed disappointment over the lack of a requirement for new buildings to include solar panels.

CPRE Chief Executive Roger Mortlock urged the government to prioritise a rooftop solar revolution, emphasizing that stamp duty rebates alone wouldn’t suffice.

Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace criticised the absence of measures to insulate homes and reduce energy bills, stressing the need for a national drive to address the root causes of the energy crisis.

Rebecca Newsom, head of politics at Greenpeace UK, said: “Today, we needed to see bold leadership and a big vision for a green industrial strategy, but all we got was tinkering at the edges. These small reforms will do nothing to tackle the scale of the problems our economy and climate face.”

Friends of the Earth’s head of policy Mike Childs said: “There was cold comfort for the millions of households bracing themselves for yet another winter in damp, freezing homes that they can’t afford to heat.

“Yet again the Chancellor was silent on the need for a national drive to insulate homes – the most significant measure to reduce sky-high energy bills.”

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