In responding to three opportunities for input to Government over the past couple of weeks, we have portrayed a clear picture of what our industry needs to enable BEAMA members to further contribute to progress to net zero and improving the UK economy. Across responses to the Smarter Regulation consultation, a representation to the Spring Budget, and the DBT Select Committee’s Industrial Policy Inquiry, there are common strands linking together some of our major policy asks.
In one category, we need policies that are specifically open to an appropriate range of technologies. Products should be included if they can meet the criteria of energy saving potential and needing policy support. For example, the recent changes to VAT relief for Energy Saving Materials retained a too narrow scope by excluding heat batteries and high heat retention storage heaters. These are excellent options for heat decarbonisation and with heat pumps can ensure the range of property types in the UK can have affordable low carbon thermal comfort. We have urged Government to revisit the ESM classification and widen the scope based on the evidence and improved definitions that we have provided. The provision of improved VAT relief will stimulate not only end user investment but also create a platform for new manufacturing and innovation capability, while increasing access to energy flexibility which is beneficial to consumers and the energy system.
Also in this category are policies aimed at supporting industry and supply chain investment. In the Advanced Manufacturing Plan for example, a number of sectors are specifically and rightfully mentioned, but the full extent of them is not sufficiently explored. Taking transport, focus in the AMP and elsewhere continues to be on vehicle and battery provision, but we also need growth in investment in charging infrastructure and electrical installation product manufacturing to support the transition to low carbon transport. The long-promised green taxonomy consultation should be important in recognising the breadth of technology and skills types that are necessary to support the net zero transition – not all of them will have traditionally be considered energy saving products, but they are now critical enablers.
In the second major category we have policy interventions that would address all electrification technologies that can make progress to net zero. Underpinning these must be a clear and consistent policy trajectory the gives businesses and consumers certainty of the direction of travel, so the rationale for policy decisions is widely understood and coherent. Applying this approach in practice would quickly lead Government to making progress on a cost of electricity review to find some answers to key questions on improving the attractiveness of low carbon products. We need a level playing field so that deployment of products that allow progress to net zero and market growth is not hindered by subsidy or relief regimes that contradict support for low carbon heat and transport products. We need clarity on the policy approach to circular economy, which currently is too piecemeal. We need a clear sectoral policy roadmap to industrial decarbonisation, which are internationally aligned to existing schemes and standards. And we need improved resource for policymaking, regulation, market surveillance and enforcement to be able to survey regulatory options, work out what is best for the public and consumers, ensure there are no gaps or sudden drop-offs in compatibility with trade in other markets and ensure that non-compliant products do not reach end users.
The policies proposed across both categories would help make progress to our carbon budgets and net zero requirement, while benefiting the economy through supporting market growth and a fair transition. We hope to continue our work with policymakers and policy influencers to benefit our members and the public.
BEAMA members can read our full responses to the three calls for input in the members’ area of our website.