Bathroom Manufacturers Association chief executive Tom Reynolds looks at the highs and lows of the Government's Budget plans, and reveals that while there may have been some short-term rallying calls, it represents a missed chance for real change.
"The Chancellor's recent Spending Review, the first since the pandemic and Brexit, gave clear signals designed to fire up the private sector. There was a raft of spending announcements for transport, health and education, but this was accompanied by a tone of restraint, and a sense of managed expectations, appealing to everyone to recognise that Government has limits.
"Rishi Sunak said Britain should not be 'a country where the response to every question is: What is the Government going to do about it?' This is believed to be a nod to soaring global gas prices, and ongoing supply chain shocks – an indicator of boundaries being drawn.
"And if there was any doubt about the role of business in the UK’s recovery and net zero future, it was made clear – it’s time to put your hand in your pocket and splash some cash.
"The £1m Annual Investment Allowance extension to March 2023 gives tax relief for capital expenditure on plant and machinery, and 'will encourage investment in technologies like solar panels,' said the Chancellor. Furthermore, his introduction of a new green investment relief and business rates improvement relief have been widely welcomed.
"The Bathroom Manufacturers Association was part of a coalition of trade bodies calling for reform of business rates ahead of the Budget. This benefit will be felt, not only by manufacturers, but also by our key channel partners in retail and merchanting.
"Despite these welcome announcements, there was a glaring omission in the form of net-zero details. Following a cross-industry campaign for real commitments on a long-term retrofit strategy for UK homes, the topic was conspicuously absent from the Chancellor’s address. This is a missed opportunity, at a time in the lead up to COP 26, when we were hoping to see more substance following the recent (and rather thin) Heat in Buildings Strategy.
"Decarbonising our 27 million existing homes, including through upgrades to bathrooms, is vital if we are to meet our national climate targets. I fear, without a co-ordinated, adequately funded, nationwide retrofit strategy, home decarbonisation will take place at a slower pace than necessary."