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Does the government’s green recovery go far enough?

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Katy Owen Associate Director 09/07/2020

As Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledges £3bn worth of support for the so-called ‘green recovery’, we take a look at what the public thinks of his new policies.

Almost half of the public (47%) say the government is not doing enough to reduce pollution, address climate change or protect the environment

In his highly anticipated summer statement, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced several measures aimed at leading the country through the crisis and out the other side. Headline news included a temporary cut in stamp duty and billions of pounds worth of support for 16-24-year-old job seekers.

Another key element of his statement was the announcement of a series of policies to support the so-called ‘green recovery’, amounting to over £3bn. These measures are designed to help kickstart the construction sector whilst also contributing to the government’s existing pledge to reach ‘Net Zero’ carbon emissions by 2050 – and our recent polling for The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) think tank suggests these measures are highly popular with the public.

One of the policies will be ‘Green Home Grants’ – government subsidised vouchers for homeowners to put towards home improvements such as loft, wall and floor insulation (approximately two thirds of the cost). The data found that 75% of the public would support such a measure, the highest support across a number of other policies put to them. Other measures that received majority support include increased subsidies for public transport (66%), higher charges on products which have a lot of packaging (65%) and low-cost loans or grants for households to buy electric cars (65%).

The Chancellor also announced that the government will set up a £50m fund to invest in making social homes more energy efficient. This is a crucial measure for the government to take, with 38% of UK adults citing that building environmentally-friendly social housing (that has minimal effect on the environment) should be their biggest priority.

We know that the public broadly support more housebuilding, but steps must be taken to ensure there is a focus on building sustainable and low-carbon properties in order for the green recovery to fully thrive.

Almost half of the public (47%) say the government is not doing enough to reduce pollution, address climate change or protect the environment. And with a similar proportion (48%) saying the UK should be more ambitious than it currently is in this area, there is likely to be a large constituent of people hoping for even more ambitious policies on tackling the climate crisis.

The good news is that the people don’t see economic recovery and green recovery as mutually exclusive things. In fact, three quarters (75%) agree that actions taken to help the economy recover after COVID-19 could also have a beneficial effect on the environment, suggesting that most think a green recovery is possible.

For those wanting answers to questions about the reparation of the environment, the Chancellor’s statement has provided food for thought. Whether or not these measures are enough to show the country – and the world – that the UK is doing enough to tackle the climate crisis remains to be seen, but it will be interesting to see how the policies are received once they have been fully integrated into day-to-day life.

You can access the full report here. For more information or to discuss the findings, please get in touch here.

This survey was carried out by Savanta on behalf of The Institute for Public Policy Research between 19th-22nd June among 2,120 members of the UK public.

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